Preemie Saved By Cardboard Box

would you trade this in for a cardboard box?
A pediatrician who went to help after the earthquake in Haiti found himself desperate to save a preemie. So he made an incubator out of a cardboard box.

It was a dark and stormy night (really!), and Dr. Dennis Rosen had six women in active labor. One was a teenager who hadn’t even realized she was pregnant, and her teeny baby boy weighed 2 pounds 3 ounces at about 32 weeks gestation.

Rosen said: “Once the baby was born we dried and swaddled him and started looking for a place where he could be cared for until he was stable enough to be sent home.”

No incubators were to be found, at that hospital or any other. Another doc suggested he “MacGyver” himself an incubator. So he did.


One cardboard box, some padding, and a heat lamp later, the kid was given the chance of survival he needed. The mom learned to express her milk and feed him until he could nurse on his own. A bed was finally found for him, and he was eventually sent home at 5 1/2 pounds.

Rosen goes on to ask if he was just being a naïve fool to expend so much energy on one tiny baby when so many needed the help of so few resources; local doctors actually told him not to waste his time, and I do understand why.

But as the mom of a 3 1/2-pounder, I am so grateful.

Preemies are an incredibly hardy, strong, spunky lot. They fight like hell in their first weeks of life, and from what I’ve seen so far (I now know a lot of former preemies), they go through life with an innate sense that they can do anything. Just yesterday my teeny tiny toddler, whose ankles are still scarred with tons of tiny IV pricks, tried to follow some big kids up a play structure, became stuck, shrieked for me, and then refused to stop trying despite her momentary terror.

This was not me as a child. This is a kid who knows she can do things.

So while some scoffed at this doctor’s insistence on saving the few despite the needs of many, I say thank you, thank you, thank you, and send huge hugs to that surprised and lucky mom.

What do you think of the cardboard incubator? Did you have a preemie? Tell us in the comments!

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