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Dayo Olakulehin: Nigerian Doctor Aspiring to Save Lives Now Saves Souls

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Dayo Olakulehin: Nigerian Doctor Aspiring to Save Lives Now Saves Souls

Amid the global call for top talents to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Dayo Olakulehin, a Nigerian-born doctor and entrepreneur, introduced the D-Box, an innovative, portable, and cost-effective ventilator aimed at saving numerous 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 bravely confronted the challenges of Covid-19 to save lives, now has his focus on the noble endeavor of rescuing souls from eternal destruction.

The Birth of an Idea

Olakulehin was born in the vibrant city of Lagos, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor of Medicine degree from the University of Lagos, where he laid the foundation for his groundbreaking 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 Entrepreneurship at McMaster University in Canada, and would later obtain an Executive MBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology.

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During his tenure in the emergency ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Olakulehin encountered a pivotal moment. He found himself manually ventilating a five-year-old boy for hours, a task that underscored the pressing need for 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 pediatric 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 realization that reliance on human-operated ventilation was not sustainable, particularly in resource-constrained environments, served as the catalyst for the conception of the D-Box. This groundbreaking innovation emerged as a response to the pressing need for a more efficient and accessible ventilation solution.

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 engineered to automate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) bags, providing controlled breaths to patients experiencing respiratory issues. Its design is tailored to address the challenges faced in developing nations, where access to advanced medical equipment is often limited.

The ventilator evolved into a collaborative project developed by Inertia Engineering + Design, a Canadian product development firm, in partnership with 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.

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“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.

Balancing both business and healthcare endeavors, Olakulehin also dedicated himself to serving others through his faith and ministry. Despite his immersion in scientific pursuits, his belief remained steadfast. Assuming the position of Resident Pastor at KICC Toronto, Canada, under the mentorship of Senior Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Olakulehin extended his service to the spiritual well-being of others.

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.

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