In 2006, a young girl, only 9 months old, was in the hospital. She was suffering from an infection: viral pneumonia. In an instant everything went catastrophically awry when her lungs began filling with fluid.Within five minutes, her entire body was completely blocked off from oxygen in the air.
Sometimes, just a few minutes mean the difference between life and death. Just a few breaths can be enough for doctors to act and save a life. When someone is unable to take in oxygen with their lungs, they often damage their brain and other organs, or can even have a heart attack — any of which could lead to death.
In the case of this young girl, a few minutes could have meant the difference between life and death.
Photo: Children’s Hospital Boston
Her doctor, John Kheir of Children’s Hospital Boston, desperately tried to save her, giving her CPR and inserting a breathing tube to push oxygenated air into her lungs. When those weren’t working he hooked her little body up to a heart-and-lung machine, which moved her blood around her body and brought it in contact with oxygen even though her heart and lungs were damaged.Though she was still alive, the minutes of oxygen deprivation this small patient suffered were enough to permanently damage her brain and other organs. She was brain damaged and died a few days later.
An extra few minutes of oxygen could have saved her brain, and her life. These few precious minutes of extra time is what led Kheir on his search, and eventually led him to develop a way to inject oxygen directly into the bloodstream.
His incredible invention, an oxygen-containing foam, gets oxygen into the body but bypasses the lungs, which can stop working if injured or filled with fluid, in the case of this young patient.
Find out more about this creation oxygen foam, a life saving innovation >
See a step-by-step process showing how injected gas bubbles deliver oxygen >
See our list of Game Changers: 30 Innovations That Will Change The World >
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.