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Jane Chen was at Stanford for grad school when she started Embrace. She was enrolled in a class that required students to create low-cost products for people living on less than $1 per day.
Chen told In The Know that she considers people dying because they didn't have access to healthcare or technology to be the biggest injustice in the world.
"15 million pre-term and underweight babies are born every year around the world," Chen said. "3 million babies die within the first 28 days of life — so that's six babies every minute."
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Chen figured out that one of the biggest problems these babies and families face is staying warm or regulating the baby's body temperature. While she had no medical background, she knew this was an issue worth pursuing.
Incubators were engineered to address this issue, but not every family nor hospital nor country has access to them. They're expensive, require constant electricity and are difficult to operate. A traditional incubator costs around $20,000 to operate.
"You're not going to find them in remote parts of the world where many of these babies are dying," Chen explained.
Embrace founded a groundbreaking alternative to these conventional incubators. According to Chen's website, "the Embrace infant warmer costs about 1% of a traditional incubator and is estimated to have helped over 300,000 babies to date."
The Embrace incubator looks very similar to a sleeping bag. Once wrapped around a premature infant, a pouch of phase-change material (PCM) keeps the baby's temperature at the right temperature for hours — and can be "recharged" after being submerged in boiling water for a couple of minutes.
It costs only $25.
"So many technologies out there are expensive, are dated, and it just takes looking at things with a really fresh perspective," Chen said. "To do that comes back to compassion. Our goal became: How do we save babies?"
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