A University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineer has earned a $1.3 million grant to further methods to give potentially life-saving oxygen to patients whose lungs have stopped working.
The project, headed by the National Strategic Research Institute and led by UNL assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering Benjamin Terry, will advance a technique that uses tiny bubbles to mimic air sacs within the human lung to release oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.
The emergency treatment could keep blood-oxygen levels stable while patients are being transported from the field to a medical center, according to a UNL news release.
Terry said the technology transforms the abdomen into "a third lung."
"Through a method of pumping and delivering oxygen microbubbles into the abdomen while removing dangerous carbon dioxide, the process delivers life-sustaining oxygen to the body's core, which is then circulated to the brain and other vital organs," he said.
The team, which includes the University of Colorado Boulder's Mark Borden, the researcher who pioneered the approach, and researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, received funding from the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General.
Terry said the treatment could be a reliable option in situations where weapons of mass destruction may have been used.
"The current en-route care system of transporting patients has high survival rates, but unique scenarios could severely stress the system in the event of mass casualties," he said. "In the event of a WMD attack, there is a high probability that the current transportation system would be overwhelmed."