A research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is using LED blankets to treat jaundice in newborns.
The story’s an incredible one. The entire idea for the project originated from a small family in Philadelphia, PA.
Dr. Harel Rosen worked in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riddle Hospital. When his mother visited his workplace, she asked about an infant in the NICU laying naked under a bank of blue lights. Rosen explained that the baby was being treated for jaundice with light therapy, and they needed to treat as much of the skin surface as possible.
Daniella Rosen was troubled. “But his mom could not pick him up or hold him,” she said.
The incident sparked a series of conversations at the family dinner table. How could babies with jaundice be treated with light therapy in a less intrusive way? And what about areas of the world without access to power? Was there a solution possible that wouldn’t require electricity? Africa, for example, has one of the highest mortality rates for neonatal jaundice. Could a solution make it easier to treat jaundice across the world?
Daniella’s husband came up with the idea of powering LEDs with solar energy and embedding them in blankets.
The family received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in May 2010, and they’ve already created several prototypes. They’re hoping to begin testing the LED blankets by the end of 2012.
Isn’t it amazing how a simple idea has the potential to spark worldwide change? For more information on the Rosens, see this article (with a video interview of Dr. Harel Rosen) in the Daily Times newspaper.