Often the most remarkable change is borne from the simplest solution. We have to clear our minds of the advancements we're familiar with, in order to visualize a new way of doing things. Jane Chen, was working with non-profit organizations on health care issues in developing countries when she became determined to find a way to help low birth weight babies stay alive. Low birth weight is often fatal, because the infant exhausts all it's energy in an attempt to stay warm, depriving itself of the energy needed to grow and develop normal organ function. Worldwide, 20 million babies are born with a significantly low birth weight, and four million of them die each year. The ones that survive have significant health problems due to their precarious start.
The answer lies in providing enough warmth. Consistent warmth. More than a mother's body heat can provide. In America, the standard solution is placing such a baby in an incubator, to keep them warm, and reduce risks of infection. But hospital incubators have a $20,000 price tag and require electricity to operate. Not the most practical solution in developing countries.
They need something cheaper, portable, and reusable. So Chen developed something that looks like a baby sleeping bag, with an insert made of a special wax that can be heated and reheated, and maintains it's temperature for 4-6 hours. It's easy to clean and sterilize, and more importantly it is easy for any parent to use, even parents who can't read instructions.
It's called the Embrace Infant Warmer and can be produced for about twenty-five dollars. Already, it's design has saved more than 50,000 babies. Now, they just need more of them available for babies, and in the arms of mothers. All that's needed is to get this brilliant idea in front of more people.
Just last week, at a Gucci Charity event, celebrity singer Beyoncé Knowles donated a quarter of a million dollars to Embrace Innovations, to fund a pilot project in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, bringing the Warm Embrace to possibly 1,900 underweight babies who, without it, might not live.
It's innovation like Chen's and the generosity of so many others like Beyoncé that can make a difference. If you believe in this kind of progress, maybe you can donate too.
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