Odón, who has numerous patents for car parts, began refining the idea. After showing it to a few obstetricians in Argentina, he met with a doctor from the World Health Organization, who loved the invention.

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Donald G. McNeil, Jr., reporting for the New York Times:

With the Odón Device, an attendant slips a plastic bag inside a lubricated plastic sleeve around the head, inflates it to grip the head and pulls the bag until the baby emerges.

Doctors say it has enormous potential to save babies in poor countries, and perhaps to reduce cesarean section births in rich ones.

“This is very exciting,” said Dr. Mario Merialdi, the W.H.O.’s chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health and an early champion of the Odón Device. “This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years.”

The Odón Device is far gentler than forceps or suction cups, other common tools doctors and midwives use to assist with the birthing process. It’s straightforward enough that, with a bit of training, midwives could use it, expanding the situations in which the device could be used.

There’s still plenty of testing that remains to be done before the Odón Device is widely available, but doctors who have seen the device in action say it has great promise.

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