What We Do

When Dr. Hansen first started working on neonatal wards in rural Rwanda in 2010, she was surprised and frustrated to learn that hypothermia was a major obstacle to the care of newborns. Confronting startlingly high rates of hypothermia and hyperthermia–both of which can be dangerous–she struggled to find solutions. About 30% of newborns were admitted cold. Skin To Skin care (STS), also called Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), worked much better than the few incubators that were available, but about 60% of babies remained cold despite STS. Mothers with twins would alternate warming one, then the other. Babies would often be admitted to the neonatal ward without their mothers because they were sick and had to stay in Labor and Delivery. Even if babies were admitted with the mother, the babies were often sick; healthcare workers had to watch their breathing and they needed to have IVs started and be on respiratory support, none of which worked well in combination with the positioning of STS. The babies who survived grew slowly and Dr. Hansen worried about their brain growth during this critical time in neurodevelopment. Determined to address this problem upon returning home, Dr. Hansen partnered with engineers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to devise a non-electric skin temperature heating pad that is easy to prepare, use and clean. The heating pad is designed to compliment STS when available, and to serve as a stand-alone external heat source when the mother is occupied, sick, or otherwise incapacitated.

 

Our Goal is to Reach Hypothermic Newborns Across the Globe

Where We Are

Created in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, Partners In Health-Inshuti Mu Buzima, and the Rwandan Pediatric Association, the DreamWarmer is currently being used in Rwanda in a research setting. Once we have completed our Step Wedge Cluster Randomized Trial and secured Rwandan Standards Bureau certification, we will roll it out to hospitals, health centers, transport ambulance and homes across the entire country.

Where We’re Going

We will then expand to African countries in relative proximity to Rwanda whose health ministries have prioritized maternal newborn survival. Our near term expansion goal includes:

  • Cameroon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Sierra Leone
  • Ghana