Lifehacks, they’re definitely a thing in our culture. But the word seems to have lost a bit of its luster through overuse. The minutiae of everyday life appear to have become one big lifehack leaving a truly awe-inspiring life hack to become a footnote in a sea of shoelace hacks and moustache hacks. Not to discount the overwhelming sense of enlightenment upon unlocking the secret of how to fold a fitted sheet (earth-shattering stuff), but there are some life hacks that transcend convenience. They are simple, clever, elegant even, solutions that in some cases can actually save lives.
According to the World Health Organization, 2 million infant deaths a year are caused by pneumonia. So when a young doctor, Mohammod Jobayer Chisti, was confronted head-on with the senseless deaths of infants due to respiratory complications, he became driven to find an affordable and accessible solution.
For infants with a respiratory illness such as pneumonia, the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed making it difficult for them to stay open between breaths, causing oxygen debt. With the right equipment, successful recovery is possible. However, as a physician in a third-world country, Dr. Chisti, neither had the funds or the immediate access to these devices.
After two decades of experimentation, Dr. Chisti arrived at an affordable and simple solution using a tube and a shampoo bottle partially filled with water. When the infant exhales into the tube, it creates water bubbles in the bottle. The bubbles produce enough opposing force to gently keep air sacs in the lungs open and allow the infant to properly exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. Within hours of first testing this device on critical care infants, Chisti witnessed dramatic recoveries.
Dr. Chisti and a team of doctors continue to research and refine their solution. In the near term, his device which costs around $1.25 has replaced a $15,000 ventilator device and reduced the mortality rate by 75% for infants with pneumonia.
For Mohammod Jobayer Chisti, finding a way to do more with less seems to come as naturally to him as breathing. From adversity, he discovered that limitations are tools, and challenges are opportunities to learn and grow. By approaching his challenge from a unique perspective, he bravely discarded traditional methods to explore the unknown and uncover an innovative solution, a real lifehack that saves real lives.
Tackling the Main Causes of Child Mortality in Developing Countries Evidence from Non-clinical Interventions, by Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, October 30, 2013, https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/tackling-main-causes-child-mortality-developing-countries
If Your Baby Has Pneumonia, This Doctor’s $1.25 ‘Shampoo Bottle Trick’ Is a Life Saver, by Li Yen, Epoch Times, May 29, 2019, Updated: June 4, 2019, https://www.theepochtimes.com/if-your-baby-has-pneumonia-this-doctors-1-25-shampoo-bottle-trick-is-a-life-saver_2748187.html
The World Health Organization, 10 facts on health inequities and their causes Updated April 2017, https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/health_inequities/en/