In remembrance of Christopher Nsamba, the Ugandan who designed the world’s largest life-saving incubator

In June 2020, a Ugandan innovator, researcher and engineer Christopher Nsamba, the founder and director of the African Space Research Program, designed the largest and most technologically advanced baby incubator in the world. The Incubator named SAVANT X was manufactured in the backyard of his home in Ntinda, Uganda; where he built his workshop.

Nsamba’s love and passion for technology saw him win a trip to the United States of America where he went on and studied physics and biology, and upon returning to Uganda, he started working on his baby incubator, an aeroplane and drone.

The incubator is able to carry and work on 10 babies at a go. Nsamba had largely built this high-tech machine on his own with little to no support from the government. The SAVANT X was the second incubator to be built by Nsamba, and was deployed in Mukono, Kawempe and Kawolo hospitals respectively through the help of the Ministry of Health.

The SAVANT X incubator

This is my second built incubator project in Uganda, a ten-baby single unit with no assistance from concerned government ministries. If it was not for Ministry of Health support, I wouldn’t be able to implement. The ten-baby incubator is to be commissioned in Kawempe Hospital

Nsamba Christopher

The first incubator he manufactured and installed in Mukono hospital saved more than 250 babies. A video of Nsamba’s first incubator, dubbed SAVANT GENIUS available on his organisation’s website http://africanscientist.org, carries testimonies of nurses at Mukono Grade IV, expressing relief at the way the machine helped save the lives of premature and neonatal babies as well as the stress they endured in trying to save the babies.

Christopher Nsamba posing in front of his incubator

Here are some of the specifics of the SAVANT X incubator:

  1. This incubator understands and can make decisions in case of an emergency when medical personnel are not close by.
  2. It carries 10 babies at once, in 10 different chambers.
  3. Some babies get brain injuries (Twitches) during birth and they end up with continuously moving body parts, when it is not the baby doing it, for example, the baby can have the hand move back and forth continuously; this can cause the baby to become so tired and die. The machine has a technology which fixes damaged brain cells for neonates.
  4. Some babies delay to breath upon delivery and get dead brain cells, if they survive, they become mentally disabled. This machine has a technology which stops brain cells from dying off if the baby is loaded as quickly as possible.
  5. Normally, oxygen is delivered to babies through tubes that they bypass over the nose, this machine can deliver oxygen wireless to the baby, without any tubes attached to the nose. Nsamba discovered some babies are really irritated by this conventional way of oxygen delivery, so the machine delivers oxygen wireless.
  6. The machine is loaded with a server customised through custom-made software to be able to read the 1087 sensors deployed on board, to understand, interpret them and call out decisions accordingly, in case this machine is confused about a decision to take, it will be able to communicate to the international paediatric network, for further advice in case no local medical personnel can save a baby, and when it is trying to do so by itself.
  7. It is designed with a heat bank which stores heat so, in case of a power failure outage, this machine continues operation as normal. When power is off, sensors, servers and much more pick power from the secondary 1, secondary 1A, and primary 1A BUSS backups, and picks heat from its heat bank, all sensor and software governed. In short, it remains fully functional when power is off and can warm all the 10 babies at individually set temperatures for six days without power; sustaining full functionality.
  8. This machine remembers the faces of those that work on it, if someone whom it doesn’t know attempts to remove a baby, it will lock all cabins and call the Head of the Department on phone, if it is fine, he/she just answers the phone and says, override. Then it will allow the new person to reach the baby, if the Head of Department thinks it is an intruder, on phone he/she says arrest. It will even lock the room doors where the incubator is so that the intruder does not escape, then continue having all the 10 babies locked into it.
  9. In case of a fire, this machine can cut off smoke from reaching the babies, and it 100% supports them on the auxiliary oxygen buss.
Image: SAVANT X Incubator

In 2021, Nsamba was recognized by the Official World Record Association for building the world’s largest incubator. The SAVANT X incubator was also recognized as the most technologically sophisticated baby incubator technology ever built. Nsamba won the Innovation of the Year award for the Heroes In Health Awards 2021 in Uganda. Away from the SAVANT X incubator, the talented and genius Nsamba had designed drones and baby ICUs for ambulances.

In July 2022, Africa lost a true son of the soil. The Ministry of Health in Uganda announced the passing of Christopher Nsamba aged 37. According to media reports in Uganda, he succumbed to diabetes after battling the disease for a while. The 37-year-old is described as a selfless and exceptional talent whose life was dedicated to saving the lives of children and also changing the narrative. Nsamba is dead, but his innovation is alive and it’s saving dozens of the lives of young babies in Uganda.

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