Solution to Fetal Distress Found In Car Mechanic’s Device

Jenn Fusion | December 24th, 2013

Fetal DistressAbout 10 percent of the 137 million annual births worldwide encounter fetal distress and serious birth injury complications. Dr. Mario Merialdi of the WHO told the NY Times that 5.6 million babies are stillborn or die immediately and 260,000 women do not survive childbirth.

Obstructed labor is a major problem, especially when the baby’s head is too large or the mother becomes too exhausted to push. At best, women are subjected to forceps or vacuums, which “either can cause hemorrhages, crush the baby’s head or twist its spine” in untrained hands, says the newspaper. In poorer countries, women are often left on their own, with no medical interventions available to them – that is, until now.

Invention offers low-cost solution for fetal distress

Jorge Odon, a 59-year-old Argentinean car mechanic, developed the first prototype for the Odon Device in his kitchen, using a glass jar “womb,” a baby doll and a fabric sleeve sewn by his wife. The idea for the life-saving baby extraction device came to him in a dream, but has won enthusiastic support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and medical professionals around the world.

So far, the device appears to be safe — even if used by untrained midwives. The WHO is currently overseeing 100 tests on women in normal labor in China, India and South Africa. The next phase of testing will be on 170 women in obstructed labor. Still, there is much work to be done before this invention sees the light of day.

“There’s finalizing the design for manufacture, quality control, the regulatory work and clinical studies. Absent that, they don’t see the light of day,” explains Gary M. Cohen, executive VP for global health at Becton, Dickinson and Company – which eventually manufacture the devices to be sold for around $50 a piece.

Extraction error birth injuries

About 6 out of every 1,000 U.S. babies suffer mild to severe birth injury complications. The hope is that the Odon Device will cut down on fetal stress related to extraction errors. There are many different types of medical practitioner errors that can cause birth injuries and permanent disability, including:

  • Trauma to the head and neck leading to headaches, auditory disorders and visual disturbances
  • Unexplained brain bleeds and neonatal encephalopathy from pelvic contractions
  • Improper use of forceps, causing spinal injuries, paralysis, palsies, hemorrhage, asphyxia and death
  • Improper use of vacuum extraction devices, causing skull fractures, hemorrhage and lacerations

Who is liable for birth injury complications?

In some cases, doctors are held liable for birth injury complications. Poor training and improper device use are common reasons to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Upon further discovery, lawyers sometimes uncover evidence that the hospital did not have proper emergency procedures in place, and that they failed to prepare their staff for adverse outcomes. Many people may be found liable for failing to monitor the mother and baby for signs of distress and failing to provide standard care. Fetal distress cases rarely involve just one person who is solely to blame. Hopefully inventions like the Odon Device will reduce the need for malpractice claims related to birth injuries.

Legal advocacy for birth injury victims

The Sanders Firm provides free, no-obligation case reviews for families who suspect their child suffered birth injury complications stemming from failure to detect or respond to fetal distress. Our attorneys will evaluate the circumstances surrounding your case and explain your legal options for pursuing compensation. Call today at 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752).


  1. Makin Miracles- Birth Trauma http://www.makinmiracles.com/articles_doctor/birth_trauma.html

  2. NY Times – Car Mechanic Dreams Up A Tool To Ease Difficult Births http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/health/new-tool-to-ease-difficult-births-a-plastic-bag.html

  3. Consumer Justice Group - When  Hospitals Do Harm http://consumerjusticegroup.com/birth-injuries/sufferedbirthinjury/