Car mechanic invents new birthing tool endorsed by WHO

A 59-year-old car mechanic from Argentina has invented a widely-endorsed new tool that promises to help women give birth more easily, the New York Times reported.

The Odón Device, named after its creator, Jorge Odón, is meant to help women during obstructed labor – which occurs when a baby’s head is too large to fit through the birth canal or when a mother’s contractions stop mid-labor.

The idea for Odón’s invention came to him after he watched a YouTube video on how to remove a cork that had fallen into a bottle of wine.

The device, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), involves slipping a plastic bag around the infant’s head, inflating the bag, and then pulling until the baby emerges from the birth canal.

“This is very exciting,” Dr. Mario Merialdi, the WHO’s chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health, told the New York Times. “This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years.”

Currently, when obstructed labor occurs, physicians typically use forceps or suction cups to deliver the baby.  However, both of these tools have the potential to cause hemorrhages and damage to the baby’s skull or spine.

Experts say the device has the potential to reduce rates of cesarean sections in wealthy nations, as well as decrease infant and maternal mortality rates in poorer countries, according to the New York Times.

So far, the device has been successfully tested on 30 Argentinean women, all of whom had given birth before and were experiencing normal labor in a hospital setting.

In subsequent clinical trials overseen by the World Health Organization, the device will be tested on 100 more women in normal labor in China, India and South Africa – and then on 170 women experiencing obstructed labor.

The Odón Device has received research grants from the United States Agency for International Development and  Grand Challenges Canada. It will be manufactured by Becton, Dickinson and Company of Franklin Lakes, N.J.

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