Carnegie Mellon University

External Lung Device 


Project overview:

People suffering with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other lung related ailments may be required to use an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine for breathing to support their lungs externally. The ECMO machine uses an oxygenator, also known as the gas exchange that expels carbon dioxide and receives oxygen. Naturally the oxygenator will degrade which leads to frequent replacements based upon assumed failure of the device.


We are developing a sensor that uses light to detect oxygen bound to hemoglobin to indicate when the oxygen levels start to decline. This will serve as an early warning detection for patients using the standard ECMO machine.

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