The technology to create an artificial lung pioneered at Swansea University was supported by initial research into the flow of complex fluids and flows for engineering applications, carried out by scientist Professor Rhodri Williams at Swansea's College of Engineering, and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).?
Working with professor Adrian Evans, from Swansea's college of medicine, and who is also an emergency medicine consultant at Morriston Hospital's A&E Department, professor Williams found that his work on fluid flow (rheology) could be applied to blood and had potential uses in medical settings.
This led to the development of sensors for detecting abnormal blood clotting, in partnership with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU Health Board). Establishing a better understanding of blood rheology, in particular the problems arising from clotting, has contributed to the development of this artificial lung.
Further partnerships between Professor Williams, professor Evans, the National Institute for Social Care and Health (NISCHR), together with Swansea University's Institute of Life Science -based company, Haemair, are developing the patented device, with a number of prototypes being developed. Haemair moved to Swansea to benefit from the expertise built up by Professors Williams and Evans. The project has also benefited from facilities at the joint ABMU Health Board/EPSRC laboratory at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
The device resembles a small box with inlet and outlet pipes for blood flow. It is intended to be worn externally to assist breathing for patients with chronic illnesses including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and cystic fibrosis.
It is also being developed for use to assist recovery of patients following cardiopulmonary surgery and used to keep patients healthier whilst they are waiting for a lung transplant. Helping patients with breathing will enable more transplants to take place, with better matching and improved survival rates.