BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the nationwide shortage of ventilators that help the very sick to breathe. The machines are complicated and costly, but a Baltimore company is seeking approval to make thousands of ventilators quickly and cheaply.

Adcor Industries in Baltimore’s Greektown neighborhood usually produces parts for the aerospace industry. Now, they’ve got their sights set a little closer to home.

“Ultimately they end up in products like the F-35, satellites, everything up to space shuttles,” the company’s vice president Michael Hyatt said.

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Adcor opened its loading dock to WJZ on Monday, showing off a prototype that could save lives.

“What we did is take a very complex problem and broke it down into a very simplistic solution that allows us to get air into sick peoples’ lungs,” Adcor’s founder Jimmy Stavrakis said.

Jimmy Stavrakis with Adcor Industries in Baltimore shows off a prototype ventilator that could be made for tens of thousands of dollars less than current machines.

The guts of the ventilator are the bag carried by every EMS crew in the country, the mechanics to squeeze it and the electronics to make it work.

“But also we’re able to introduce oxygen into the mask and it premixes the oxygen just at the right level for the patient,” Stavrakis said.

Regular ventilators cost around $75,000, and while they do more, they’re nowhere near as affordable. Adcor’s invention could cost just a few thousand dollars and production could begin immediately.

“We will feel great that we will have given people the opportunity to live,” Antonia Stavrakis, Adcor’s president, said.

The invention still needs federal approval since it’s a medical device.

“The governor’s office is coming here with a contingent of doctors from Hopkins and Maryland, that’s what we’ve been told,” Jimmy Stavrakis said. “We don’t know what the FDA process is; hopefully the governor’s office can help us navigate through that.”

Editor’s note: Demetrios “Jimmy” Stavrakis was convicted in 2019 of conspiring to burn down Adcor Industries to collect insurance money. In February, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $15 million.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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