Every year, 137 million births worldwide have potentially serious complications. Out of those, 5.6 million babies are stillborn or die quickly and 260,000 women die in childbirth (99% of these maternal deaths are in developing nations). One of the complications that contribute to these statistics is obstructed labor which makes it difficult for the baby to come out of the birthing canal. It can be caused by a baby’s head being too large, an exhausted mother, stopped contractions, etc.
Jorge Odón, an Argentinian car mechanic, found a simple solution to this huge problem after being inspired by a Youtube video in which an inflated plastic bag was used to remove a cork from a wine bottle. (Check out the awesome video at the end of the article!) His device works in a very similar way. According to the New York Times, “with the Odón Device, an attendant slips a plastic bag inside a lubricated plastic sleeve around the head, inflates it to grip the head and pulls the bag until the baby emerges.”
Currently, doctors use forceps or suction cups at the risk of causing hemorrhages, crushing the baby’s head, or twisting its spine. Emergency c-sections can also be performed but only few can afford them. This device is excellent because it is very easy to use even by untrained hands. It will cost less than $50 to make, and the company planning to manufacture it will offer it at a lower cost to clinics in developing nations.
The simple but effective device is groundbreaking for medicine in developing nations where there may be fewer accessible doctors who are able to handle birthing complications. Hopefully it will be able to solve a global health problem in a cost-effective manner. The WHO and has already endorsed the device and many organizations are sponsoring testing for it all over the world. See images of the device and the wine cork Youtube video below:
1. How did Odón’s unique background as a non-MD affect/inspire the development of his device?
2. How should organizations go about providing these devices to clinics (especially rural ones) and training medical personnel?
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