The lifeline of thousands of babies which are now playing in the lap of their mothers wasn’t this happy go lucky from the beginning. Back in December 2012, Niranjan Thomas, a neonatologist from CMC Vellore first approached Pluss for a Phase Change Material (PCM) that melts around 33C. His idea was to create a device that could treat birth asphyxia affected babies by maintaining their body temperatures at 33C for 72 hours. Several years working in Australia and Canada, he found that just providing the right temperature can do wonders but it is still a long way to go for a developing country like India. Devices were available but at a cost of $25,000 or more. The World Health Organization estimates that 650,000 babies worldwide die from birth asphyxia each year. The overwhelming majority of cases—more than 95 percent—occur in less-developed parts of the world which cannot afford equipment as expensive as $25,000
After two years of hardwork, Thomas ended up with something that was working just as he wanted. But, there were limitations and that’s when he approached Pluss the second time to develop a commercial product so that the technology is accessible. Pluss never imagined that a material which keeps food cool for long periods of time can also save life.
It took Pluss 1.5 years to develop their hands with making a medical device. Right from design of cradle to development of PCM with the right set of properties and a suitable mattress for comfort of babies, the product went through several iterations before it was ready for market. This was however not the end. Product acceptability was another challenge. Just because it costs less, sounds utterly simple and feels like a mattress, made people hard to believe it could treat babies.
Pluss collaborated with several neonatologists of India, organized workshops and informative sessions on birth asphyxia treatment to bring about market acceptability and create awareness. In December 2014, MiraCradle™ was commercially launched. Within a span of 18 months the product was installed in more than 100 hospitals in India and more than 1,000 babies were treated. In these 18 months, MiraCradle™ also received the CE mark clearing regulatory hurdles for use internationally. The word of mouth started spreading and the product is now being used in South Africa, Turkey and Kenya. Pluss is already in talks with a large multinational to further expand their reach in more than 15 countries.
In future, we wish to develop improved and portable versions of MiraCradle™ to further increase the reach of the product. Portable version shall be meant for transporting babies from remote areas to the nearest hospital which can provide the cooling treatment. A new improved version is planned which shall automate the process of re-warming post the cooling period. We are confident, we will one day see MiraCradleTM wherever a life is struggling to take wings.