N.J. — An experimental device that helps deliver babies
during troubled labors was invented by an auto mechanic in
being developed as part of an effort to reduce stillbirths
around the world.
instrument is named the Odon Device in honor of its inventor,
car mechanic Jorge Odon of Argentina, who got the idea when
friends re-created a YouTube video showing how to extract a
cork from a wine bottle. It is to be tested in Argentina and
South Africa before wider distribution.
still a perilous event in the developing world. According to
the World Health Organization, 2.6 million babies were
stillborn globally in 2009, a number that has declined little
since 1995, when there were 3 million stillbirths. Moreover,
about 260,000 women died in childbirth last year.
device being developed by Becton, Dickinson and Co. of
Franklin Lakes, N.J., essentially consists of a polyethylene
bag and a tube. The bag is inserted into the birth canal and
inflated slightly to create a balloon that holds onto the baby’s
head. That makes it easier to deliver the newborn, without the
potential dangers that arise when a less-skilled practitioner
uses forceps or vacuum suction. It’s also an alternative to
cesarean sections, which are not readily available in poor
countries just don’t have access to the type of
interventions that women would receive in the U.S. or Western
Europe," said Gary Cohen, executive vice president at BD,
a medical technology company that is a leading manufacturer of
needles and syringes. Officials there estimate that if the
tests go well, the device will be ready for use in about three
the idea in 2005 after seeing a plastic bag inserted into a
wine bottle and inflated to get a cork out through the bottle’s
narrow neck. He connected with officials at WHO, and the
concept won a competition called "Saving Lives at
Birth," which is sponsored by USAID, the World Bank, the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations.
from WHO reached out to Becton Dickinson in January 2012
because of the company’s experience working with governments
and non-profits to tackle health issues — especially
HIV/AIDS — in the developing world, according to Cohen. The
company doesn’t have any background in obstetrics, but it
does have expertise in global distribution, as well as
plastics molding, he said.
working on the device under an exclusive licensing agreement
with the inventor, as well as an agreement with WHO that calls
for WHO to test the device.
it plans to develop and manufacture the device in Singapore
and distribute it globally, starting in areas where the
maternal mortality rate is highest. BD will make a profit on
the product, but plans to offer it at an affordable price in
developing countries. Cohen said it’s too early to estimate
prices for Odon.
a mother or newborn dies during childbirth, it has a
devastating impact on families and communities," BD’s
chief executive officer Vincent Forlenza said in a recent
statement. "We are honored to work with the WHO and the
Saving Lives at Birth partners to bring this truly innovative
new device to scale and make it broadly accessible in the
countries where it is most needed."
proven safe and effective, the Odon Device will be the first
innovation in operative vaginal delivery since the development
of forceps centuries ago and vacuum extractor decades
ago," WHO said.