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The Power of Air

The Power of AIR

            Each day as babies are born around the world, many struggle to take that first breath. Yearly, almost a million newborns die at birth from an inability to breathe. In most cases, these deaths occur because of a hospital’s lack of resuscitation machines, usually in third world countries. However, Dr. Santorino Data, a pediatrician at Mbarara University in Uganda, has created a special gadget that can be attached to a traditional resuscitation bag that gives the doctor real-time feedback about how well they are resuscitating the baby. He calls it the Augmented Infant Resuscitator or AIR for short.

            Dr. Data explains that with his new invention, “When I’m helping my baby breathe correctly, my screen is green and that is telling me my air flow is OK. But now if I cause, for example, a leak to happen, the screen goes red and it tells me there is a leak." This instant feedback makes all the difference in saving the newborn’s life. AIR has also made the job of the doctor so much easier. Margaret Twine, a fifth-year medical student at Mbarara University says, “Even a lay person can use it. A red for danger and if you’re green, then you’re good to go.”

            The new device will cost about $25 making it affordable to third-world countries. However, there has been interest from countries all over the world. Dr. Data estimates that it will be about five years before the invention will be used in real–world situations. During this time, Dr. Data and his partnership with doctors at the Massachusetts general hospital will work to improve the device with the hopes of one day turning the millions of newborn deaths each year to zero.