The Liam Project: Putting technology to work for pre-term babies and their families
At the age of 11, Chloe Gibson envisioned a way to help grieving parents separated from their premature babies stay constantly connected.
After nine long months, every parent can agree there is no greater joy than the birth of a healthy, full-term baby. But when a child arrives too soon and faces life-threatening complications that delay the homecoming, there is no greater pain than that of being separated.
Two years ago, 11-year-old Chloe Gibson witnessed this firsthand when her baby brother Liam—born prematurely at 28 weeks and weighing only 1 lb. 12 oz.—was unable to go home with Chloe’s mother Mary Lewis, who was devastated. Watching her cry day after day and wanting to relieve her mom from the pain of not being able to be with Liam at the hospital, Chloe went to work, putting into practice the skills she had developed while attending a Verizon Innovative Learning STEM enrichment program for rural girls. Held during summer in collaboration with educational institutions, the immersive STEM-focused program inspired the 11-year-old problem solver to create The Liam Project. Designed with her mother in mind but knowing that many families go through the same heartbreaking experience, Chloe hopes it will give parents and caregivers a constant connection to their little one along with peace of mind.
Now 13 years old, Chloe is making promising progress on the project named after her little brother, a healthy and happy 2 year old.
How it works
A camera is mounted on the hospital incubator where the baby is placed. Parents and caregivers, including health professionals, can download the dedicated Liam Project app to a smartphone, tablet or desktop and view live footage of the baby in a neonatal intensive care unit in real time 24 hours a day. Monitors attached to the baby collect important data, which is also relayed in real time to provide vital information and milestones at every step of the way. Chloe also envisions a feature enabling direct messaging for nurses and other healthcare providers to help alleviate the stress of not knowing how a baby’s doing when out of their sight.
Chloe certainly possesses the characteristics of an entrepreneur and a leader. She’s not only curious but also able to apply critical thinking to big problems, recognizing a need and finding a solution.
“I felt really empowered by the all-girls Verizon Innovative Learning camp,” she says. “I appreciated watching them all kind of share their own stories and struggles they had been through and making a project out of it — thinking of ways they can solve these issues that many people go through every day.”
As for her mom, she says she was blown away by her daughter’s actions. “I was just very humbled, and I’m so proud of her, that she would want to take something that happened to us and make it better for others.”
In 2019, the year Liam was born, 1 in 10 babies in the United States were premature, arriving before 37 weeks of pregnancy had been completed. According to the CDC, the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of serious disability or death. Short-term complications include problems affecting the heart, brain, lungs, immune system, intestines, blood and metabolism, while long-term complications can lead to cerebral palsy, hearing and vision impairment and developmental delays among other issues. One of the best ways to decrease the chances of a pre-term delivery is by understanding common contributing risk factors and eliminate early in the pregnancy any that pose a threat.
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