Where do good ideas come from

Incubator’s built from standard automotive parts…..what a goof idea!

In today’s excerpt – the invention, and reinvention, of incubators for newborns
By modern standards, infant mortality was staggeringly high in the late nineteenth century, even in a city as sophisticated as Paris. One in
five babies died before learning to crawl, and the odds were far worse for premature babies born with low birth weights.
as his newborn incubator had been installed at Maternite, the fragile infants warmed by hot water bottles below the wooden boxes, Tarnier
embarked on a quick study of five hundred babies. The results shocked the Parisian medical establishment: while 66 percent of low-weight babies died within weeks of birth, only 38 percent died if they were housed in Tarnier’s incubating box. You could effectively halve the mortality rate for premature babies simply by treating them like hatchlings in a zoo. …
“Modern incubators, supplemented with high-oxygen therapy and other advances, became standard equipment in all American hospitals after the end of World War II, triggering a spectacular 75 percent decline in infant mortality rates between 1950 and 1998. …
“In the developing world, however, the infant mortality story remains bleak.
A standard incubator in an American hospital might cost more than $40,000. But the expense is arguably the smaller hurdle to overcome. Complex equipment breaks, and when it breaks you need the technical expertise to fix it, and you need replacement parts.
“Prestero and his team decided to build an incubator out of parts that were already abundant in the developing world. The idea had originated with a Boston doctor named Jonathan Rosen, who had observed that even the smaller towns of the developing world seemed to be able to keep automobiles in working order. The towns might have lacked air conditioning and laptops and cable television, but they managed to keep their Toyota 4Runners on the road. So Rosen approached Prestero with an idea: What if you made an incubator out of automobile parts?
“Three years after Rosen suggested the idea, the team introduced a prototype device called the NeoNurture. From the outside, it looked like a streamlined modern incubator, but its guts were automotive. Sealed-beam headlights supplied the crucial warmth; dashboard fans provided filtered air circulation; door chimes sounded alarms. You could power the device via an
adapted cigarette lighter, or a standard-issue motorcycle battery. Building the NeoNurture out of car parts was doubly efficient, because it tapped both the local supply of parts themselves and the local knowledge of automobile repair. These were both abundant resources in the developing world context, as Rosen liked to say. You didn’t have to be a trained medical technician to fix the NeoNurture; you didn’t even have to read the manual. You just needed to
know how to replace a broken headlight.”

Author: Steve Johnson
Title: Where Good Ideas Come From
Publisher: Riverhead
Date: Copyright 2010 by Steven Johnson
Pages: 25-28Read more at campaign.r20.constantcontact.com

 

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Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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