Commend Life-Saving Innovation for Premature Babies


Target: Professor Maria Oden and Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum of Rice University

Goal: Thank bioengineers for this simple, cost-effective measure that is saving babies’ lives

For a premature baby, the ability to breathe means the difference between life and death. Having lungs that are not yet fully developed, premature babies often have trouble breathing, which can be detrimental. The device that most use to deliver steady streams of air to their lungs, thereby saving their lives, is extremely expensive. Priced at six thousand dollars, the system known as bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (bCPAP) is standard issue for hospitals in the developed world, but far exceeds the financial means of rural hospitals in low-income nations. This lack of access to life-saving technology makes for a serious health disparity.

Thankfully, a team of Rice University professors and students have engineered a solution. The innovation: using a simple aquarium pump carried in pet stores. At three hundred and fifty dollars, the Rice version of bCPAP comes in at one fifteenth the cost of standard bCPAPs, and requires lowers maintenance, too. Most importantly, the device is effective. In a clinical trial conducted in a hospital in rural Malawi, the Rice bCPAP increased the survival rate of newborns by sixty percent. The device also helped babies with low birth weights and a serious infection called sepsis.

By signing the petition below, you can thank the team at Rice for their live-saving work that is helping eliminate health disparities worldwide.


Dear Professors Maria Oden and Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum,

I am writing to commend you and your students for your life-saving innovation that enables premature babies to breathe. Through innovative bioengineering, you have devised a simple, cost-effective solution to a serious global health problem. Your leadership and creativity give us hope for the future of health in developing nations.

I want to congratulate you as you prepare to scale up implementation of the aquarium bCPAP among central and district hospitals in Malawai and throughout Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa. I hope that your ingenuity may serve as an example for many health innovations to come, and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kevin via Flickr

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