• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Dayo Olakulehin: Nigerian doctor aspiring to save lives now saves souls

Dayo Olakulehin

When the world called on its best and brightest minds to combat Covid-19, Nigerian-born doctor and entrepreneur, Dayo Olakulehin introduced the D-Box, innovative portable and affordable ventilator to save many lives.

Today, Olakulehin serves as resident pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in Toronto, Canada, a position he has held since 2019.

The inventor who tackled Covid headlong to save lives, is now in the business of saving souls from eternal destruction.

The birth of an idea

Olakulehin was born in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria. He earned a Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Lagos, which served as a training ground for his disruptive project.

“My typical career as a clinical innovator and entrepreneur was birthed by my experiences as a student at the College of Medicine where we were exposed early to problem-based learning and critical thinking,” he wrote on his University website profile.

“In my very early practice at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, I was already primed to identify problems, gaps and experiential loopholes in the way we cared for our patients. This resulted in my concept for an affordable battery-powered ventilator that is now in huge demand all around the world.”

Olakulehin further pursued a Master’s in Innovation and Entreprenuership at McMaster University in Canada, and would later obtain an Executive MBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology.

While working in the emergency ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Olakulehin faced a critical situation. He manually ventilated a five year old boy for hours. Then he realised the urgency of finding an alternative ventilation method.

The D-Box

“The idea for the D-Box would later pop up to me in the children emergency room where I resumed a shift only to “ambu-bag” a child and then end the shift by handing over to another colleague to continue the bagging…At the time, we had no paediatric ventilators, even if they could afford to pay to use one,” Olakulehin wrote in an article he published on LinkedIn in March 2020.

“I researched more into this and figured that it was essentially a developing country problem.”

The experience and realisation that dependence on human-operated ventilation was not sustainable, especially in resource-constrained settings, would fuel the idea for the D-Box, which would turn out to be a groundbreaking innovation.

Then Olakulehin moved to Canada and founded Ligand Innovation Global, a medical startup to begin research and production of the D-Box.

The D-Box is a portable, battery-operated ventilator designed to automate Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) bags and deliver controlled breaths to patients with respiratory problems, particularly in developing nations where access to advanced medical equipment is limited.

The ventilator became a joint venture product developed by Inertia Engineering + Design, a Canadian product development firm and LigandCorp.

The product received public endorsement during its Lagos launch in 2016 by officials from various medical institutions.

When COVID hit in 2020, Olakulehin and his team re-imagined the D-Box, to produce a newer version called LifeAir G1.

“The D-Box was built for developing countries. The VitaCaeli (LifeAir) is built for the world, everywhere an Ambu-Bag is currently being used,” he wrote on Instagram.

That year, George Sharp, CEO of Forwardly, Inc. announced that it received funding commitments of $500,000 of an anticipated total of $1.3 million in financing and will itself fund Ligand Global Innovation’s development of its latest prototype of the LifeAir G1 Portable Ventilator.

Spiritual obligation

Next to a successful career as a doctor and entrepreneur, Olakulehin had a spiritual calling.

In between running a business and health care, he served others through faith and ministry. His deep entrenches in science not faltering his belief.

Olakulehin assumed the role of Resident Pastor at KICC Toronto, Canada under the mentorship of Matthew Ashimolowo, the senior pastor.

As a pastor, Olakulehin leads worship services, delivers sermons, and provides pastoral care alongside his wife, Lolade Olakulehin who is also a pastor and mother to their 3 kids.

Olakulehin still contributes to global healthcare while leading his church. His invention, the D-box was nominated for the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize in the United Kingdom in 2021 and has been featured among impactful black inventors.

There has not been much available information about the portable ventilator since Ligand Innovation Global announced plans to produce 1000 units by 2022. The website however mentions that 2 prototypes of the product were released in 2021.