An innovative new type of baby incubator that is compact, affordable and easily transportable is being used by neonatal teams in Ukraine after successful product trials in Glasgow.

Thirty-five incubators are already in the hands of clinical staff in the war-torn country – with 16 more on the way – after specialist firm mOm Incubators pledged its support.

Staff at the Royal Hospital for Children in the city have been instrumental in the design of the life-saving equipment after providing feedback on each prototype model since 2017.

These are now being used to provide much-needed flexibility to the healthcare system there, supporting clinicians, and saving the lives of babies.

A further 100 machines, which weigh 20kg compared to traditional models which can be up to 100kg, have been requested by Ukraine’s ministry of health after a reported increase of premature births by up to three times in the war-torn country.

According to UNITAID, a global health initiative that works with partners to bring about innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat major diseases, the stress caused by war increases the level of reported premature births.

Doctor Helen McDevitt, Consultant Neonatologist at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow said: “It’s been a long journey and collaboration between the clinical team here in Glasgow and those at mOm, and to be able to use our experience to support the people of Ukraine at this time is humbling.

“We have had a great working relationship with the creator, James Roberts, and there have been changes to the form of incubators based on our feedback. We all feel invested in it, we have been working with mOm to share the experiences of parents and staff to help create the final production version of the incubator. Everyone involved in this project, our consultants and the nurses on the neonatal and research teams are all feeling very emotional about it all after seeing the impact they are already having.

“Part of the design of the mOm incubators is that they are easily shipped, easy to maintain and cost-effective, to allow them to be used anywhere.”

She added: “We are very lucky to work in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in a neonatal unit with such specialist equipment and a team of highly experienced medical professionals. It’s a real privilege to help children in Glasgow and Scotland and, through projects like this, be able to help communities overseas who may not have access to the same levels of equipment and skills.”

The mOm Essential Incubator is designed to work in challenging environments, whilst being easy to maintain and fulfils the need to provide incubator care for babies, keeping them warm and under the close careful observation of medical professionals. NHSGGC Research and Innovation teams, including staff at the  clinical research facilities have recently finished a clinical study, which started in late 2021, comparing the mOm Essential Incubator to standard incubators. Clinical staff, supported by the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, have also shared their experience of this technology with doctors in Ukraine.

Babies born too early are likely to have more health issues than babies born after a full term and may face long-term health problems that affect the brain, the lungs, hearing or vision. Premature birth remains the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

James Roberts, CEO and founder of mOm, said: “It is humbling to see our systems supporting clinicians and saving lives in these very difficult times. It goes some way to proving how the mOm Incubator can be used anywhere and everywhere, giving much-needed flexibility to the healthcare system.”

The scheme has been funded by Jersey Overseas Aid in partnership with a local philanthropic group on the Channel island – which chose to remain anonymous – and delivered by not-for-profit organisation Crown Agents to hospitals in the country.