Counter to everything you've ever been told, it appears that wrapping babies' heads in plastic bags may very well be the key to a full and happy life — at least for those born of obstructed labour. What's more, this novel idea came about from one of the most unlikely sources: a car mechanic dreaming about wine.
According to the New York Times, roughly 10 per cent of the 137 million babies being born worldwide every year suffer from serious birth-related consequences, and another 5.6 are stillborn or die quickly after birth. The Odón Device aims to fix that.
But Argentian Jorge Odón wasn't thinking about any of that when the idea struck him. It all actually started when Odón was watching a YouTube video (above) about extracting a rogue cork from an empty bottle of wine. Later, after laying down to sleep, Odón claims the idea simply came to him in a dream (as the best ideas are wont to do), so he did what any enterprising mind would: rushed into the kitchen, stuffed his daughter's doll into a glass jar, and pulled her right back out using a fabric bag as his prototype. The doll lived, and Odón went on to win the prestigious endorsement of the World Health Organisation. Now, a medical technology company right here in the USA has licensed his baby bag for real life production.
Currently in these obstructed labour situations, the best options (once a cesarian has been ruled out) are large pliers or suction cups clamping down on the baby's head to pull it out, which can have serious consequences to the baby's present and future health in untrained hands. The Odón Device, however, has thus far appears to be perfectly safe in the hands of midwives lacking formal training. Although, further testing is still underway.
Dr Mario Merialdi, WHO's chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health, was one of the first to endorse the Odón Device. As he told The New York Times:
This problem needed someone like Jorge. An obstetrician would have tried to improve the forceps or the vacuum extractor, but obstructed labour needed a mechanic. And 10 years ago, this would not have been possible. Without YouTube, he never would have seen the video.
There's no timeline yet for when we might start seeing the devices gracing hospitals around the country, but incredibly, it's one of the first real advancements in the field of childbirth in years. And it's all thanks to one sleepy mechanic. [NY Times]
Picture: New York Times