Search This Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Embrace for babies

An incubator can cost up to $20,000 and requires electricity.  Many premature and low birth weight babies born in 3rd world countries live in rural areas with no electricity. Access to a hospital is difficult at best.  In many of these cultures, the babies are not named for the first month because so many of them die, many from hypothermia.  They have no fat on their bodies and cannot keep warm.  The mothers try various ways to keep them warm, from heating towels in the frying pan and wrapping the baby, to holding the child over hot coals.  But still, many die.  Those who survive are faced with a life full of health problems because so much of their energy went to trying to stay warm that their organs suffer. In India, more babies die every year than in any other country in the world.

In 2008, Stanford University put together a unique class.  It was multi-disciplinary and was called Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability.  One of the assignments for the students was to come up with an incubator (one use of an incubator is for warmth) for premature and low birth weight infants that would not only keep them warm, but use no electricity and cost less than $200.
Four of the students, Jane Chen, Rahul Panicker, Naganand Murty and Linus Liang, teamed up on the project.  Among the four, their schooling already consisted of a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, an Aerospace Engineer, and a Masters in Computer Science.  What they came up with was sheer genius!

Here it is.

It looks like a sleeping bag for a baby.  A pouch filled with paraffin wax and water is heated - either with an electric warmer or with boiling water being poured over it - and the pouch is slipped inside a pocket in the bag.  The baby is wrapped up inside the bag and the wax keeps the baby warm for 4-6 hours.  The inside of the bag is seamless so that bacteria won't collect, and it can be washed in boiling water.  It took two years of prototypes before this one came about.  The company, Embrace, is currently in India getting the distribution and training under way.  Then they will move to other countries.

It is hoped that over the next 5 years, 100,000 babies can be saved.

Now you have heard something interesting.

Just a personal note....

About a year ago, I signed up for a Netflix account.  Wow, it was fun! Instant movies and tv episodes. This was better than any "on-demand" offer on the satellite tv subscriptions we had in the past. One of my favorite shows was on Netflix.  The old Dick Van Dyke show.  I watched every episode.  Then on to Nova, Murder, She Wrote, and Andy Griffith.

My work is mostly in my basement.  Sewing for a living, and mostly working by myself, makes for a very boring day. In the past I had amused myself by listening to audio books and podcasts.  It was a great mix of learning and earning a living.  Then I got Netflix and it opened a new vista of entertainment.  I was hooked.

When my children were young, I noticed a very strong correlation between electronic games and tv vs. creativity.  When one went up, the other went down.  It was so obvious to me.  We didn't own a gaming system then.  Occasionally we would rent a Nintendo and some games and they would play to their hearts content for a few days. It was for specific days like New Year's Eve or for one of their birthdays.  I am sure they often felt like the odd man out among their friends because we didn't own one.  I am sure other mothers felt like my children were deprived.  One year a neighbor gave my son their used Nintendo when they upgraded.  (I was so proud of him a year or so later at the young age of 13 when he gave it to someone for Christmas who really longed for one.)

Anyway, what has not been so obvious to me is what has happened in the past year.  The movies and tv episodes that I have watched on Netflix have been good shows.  Nothing R rated or that would bring down my attitude.  But just like with my children, when my watching went up, my creativity and learning plummeted.

Yesterday I cancelled my Netflix account. I am excited to experience the rebound of what I have lost.  So many things to learn and books to read.  I'm sure my blog will be affected, too.

I am not saying Netflix is bad, but there needs to be a balance of things in our lives for us to be balanced.  I have an addictive side to my personality, and could not control the amount of time spent watching.  The only solution for me was to quit cold turkey.  Pushing that cancel button was a one-time decision and much easier than making the decision over and over again that I had seen enough for one day.

Now, on to some serious blogging.