Yesterday was Prematurity Awareness Day. I was supposed to wear purple and totally forgot, so I’m making up for it by posting this awesome invention: Embrace, a new invention that’s a portable incubator for use in developing countries.
When Penny was born 10 weeks early, we had the benefit of an amazing hospital, round-the-clock care, early intervention when she got two life-threatening infections, and a standard of care most of the world can only dream of. Twenty million premature babies are born each year, and four million die, while many others suffer lifelong health problems because they had to work too hard just to stay alive in their first month, so their bodies missed out on vital growing time.
Incubators like the one Penelope spent her first six weeks in can cost $20,000 -- just not doable in most developing countries. Heat lamps and cardboard boxes make for cute stories, but they really won’t do the job for most of these painfully small babes.
Inventor Jane Chen, a graduate student at Stanford University taking a course called Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability, wanted to invent a solution that was cheap, portable, and effective. The portable incubator looks like a tiny sleeping bag, easy to sterilize and open, that contains a large, flat packet of a reusable substance that, when warmed by hot water, can stay at human body temperature for four to six hours.
She and her fellow inventors launched their company after the class ended, getting seed money to get it started, and will be bringing Embrace to India later this year. They’ll cost just $25 each and should save a million babies over the next five years. Will they be as effective as Penelope’s isolette? No. Will they be an option that didn’t formerly exist for moms who live four hours from the nearest isolette-equipped hospital? Hell yes.
Is this the coolest thing you’ve every seen? Tell us in the comments!
Image via EmbraceGlobal.org