Cross-posted on USAID's Impact Blog (January 17, 2012) and the Healthy Newborn Network (January 18, 2012)
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” –Albert Einstein
It all started with friendly bet amongst friends – who could get a cork out of an empty wine bottle with only a plastic bag? The friends had seen the trick on YouTube earlier and wanted to re-enact it.
Somehow, Saving Lives at Birth finalist Jorge Odon, an Argentinian car mechanic with no medical background, drew a connection between the trick and obstructed labor, which is a major contributor to maternal mortality. The idea came to him in the dead of the night. Inspired, he woke up his wife to share his idea.
She told him to go back to bed.
Eventually, his persistence led him to patent the idea. He then worked with national and international partners to further develop a device that is now a reality and being tested. The Odon device is an example of human ingenuity and a keen ability to recognize the practical application of simple scientific concepts.
The Odon Device is made of film-like polyethylene material that can help facilitate the birth process and may provide a safer alternative than forceps and vacuum extractor for assisted deliveries. Moreover, in settings with limited surgical capacity and human resource constraints, it may be a safe alternative to some Caesarean sections since it could be used by mid-level providers or in facilities lacking the surgical capabilities for Caesarean section.
The Odon Device has potential for wide application in resource poor settings. If proven safe and effective, the Odon Device will be the first innovation in assisted vaginal delivery since the development of forceps centuries ago, and the vacuum extractor which was developed decades ago. By reducing contact between the baby’s head and the birth channel, the device could also prevent infections acquired during delivery.