Face shields to protect infants from coronvairus have been created her in Qatar.
Dr Mai Al-Qubaisi, a senior consultant in Neonatal Intensive Care, and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hamad Medical Corporation HMC) heard reports of how countries such as China and Taiwan – who were amongst the first to report cases – had started using infant face-shields for newborns.
“When I learned that some mothers – whose newly-born babies were in the NICU – had tested positive for the virus, my first response was to ensure the safety of their infants,” says Dr Al-Qubaisi.
“For this, I would need to import wearable equipment to protect the infants as they were being held and bottle-fed by their mothers, and their caregivers.
“I searched online but couldn’t find any that would serve the purpose. And as the number of cases in Qatar were increasing, I felt I was running out of time. That’s when my niece mentioned that she’d seen an Instagram post of face-shields being produced by VCUarts Qatar.”
Dr Al-Qubaisi reached out to Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar (WCM-Q) who put her in touch with VCUarts Qatar, and the university’s Fabrication Coordinator Chris Buchakjian and the FabLabteam, who had already been involved in making shields for Qatar Foundation’s Public Health Care Centre in Education City, a few weeks back.
“It was the day before the start of the Eid break when I first met with Chris to discuss measurements and designs,” the doctor says. “So I assumed that the masks would be ready only after the Eid break. But much to my amazement, Chris and his team not only said they would help design and deliver the masks, but that they would work over the Eid break and have them ready as soon as possible.
“And they did; I had the first batch of infant face-shields, around two dozen of them, delivered to me on the second day of the Eid holidays. The VCUarts Qatar team literally worked around the clock, and through their holidays, for these babies; it’s a humanitarian gesture that I will never forget.”
Buchakjian and the FabLab team used infant-sized dolls supplied by VCUarts Qatar’s Health and Safety department.
“We succeeded in manufacturing and delivering 100 infant face-shields in just a few days because the people and resources were already in place,” he says. “And we’re preparing to produce more. Ultimately design is an aspirational practice; we create products that we want to see in the world, and we strive to do so in a way that our actions positively impact others.”
The equipment is currently being used by infants in the NICU’s at both HMC and the Cuban Hospital.