A new device invented by a car mechanic, called the ‘Odon device’ will help women with complications in delivering their baby due to prolonged labor, including potentially fatal maternal (hemorrhage, infection) and newborn complications (birth asphyxia and trauma).
Jorge Odon a 59-year-old Argentine mechanic claims he had the idea come to him in a dream after he had just seen a YouTube video about someone dislodging a cork from a wine bottle by rolling up a plastic bag, placing it in the bottle and inflating it, before pulling out the bag and cork in one swoop.
Waking up at 4:00 a.m. with the idea this same trick could help save a baby stuck in the birth canal, a condition which led to nerve damage in his aunt.
He woke up his wife who “said I was crazy and went back to sleep,” he told the Times.
Odon built his first prototype in his kitchen, using a glass jar for a womb, his daughter’s doll for the trapped baby, and a fabric bag and sleeve sewn by his wife as his lifesaving device.
With the help of a cousin, Mr. Odón met the chief of obstetrics at a major hospital in Buenos Aires. The chief had a friend at the W.H.O. (World Health Organization), who knew Dr. Merialdi, and in 2008 at a medical conference in Argentina, granted Mr. Odón 10 minutes during a coffee break.
That 10 minute coffee break lasted for two hours. Dr. Merialdi thought the idea was fantastic and arranged for testing at the Des Moines University simulation lab, which has true-to-life mannequins.
“This is very exciting. This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years,” Merialdi told the paper.
The World Health Organization says the device may be safer and easier to apply than a forceps or vacuum extractor because it reduces contact between the baby’s head and birth canal, which in turn may reduce infection risk.
The Odon device has been safely tested on 30 Argentine women. The W.H.O. will now oversee tests on 100 more women in normal labor in China, India and South Africa, and then on 170 women in obstructed labor.
One mother who agreed to become one of the test subjects told the New York Times, “I was glad they asked me, because it was for a good cause,” said Luciana Valle, a kindergarten teacher who was 31 two years ago when her son, Matteo, was one of the first babies extracted with the device. Because Matteo weighed almost nine pounds, “it really helped. His head came out on my second push.”
The device also found a manufacturer in medical supply-maker Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) based Franklin Lakes, N.J., according to the report. No word yet on what it will sell for, but it will cost less than $50 to make.
Mr. Odón has continued to refine the device, patenting each change so he will eventually earn royalties on it.
“This problem [obstructed labor] needed someone like Jorge,” Dr. Merialdi said. “An obstetrician would have tried to improve the forceps or the vacuum extractor, but obstructed labor needed a mechanic. And 10 years ago, this would not have been possible. Without YouTube, he never would have seen the video.”
The origins of the Odon device.
How the Odon device works.
Preliminary testing of the Odon Device at Des Moines University
This video shows preliminary testing of the Odon Device at the Simluation Lab of Des Moines University, Iowa, USA.