'How a Two-Pound Baby Changed the Direction of My Life'

04/20/2015 10:32 am ET | Updated Jun 20, 2015
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This post is part of the Relay for Kids in partnership with SOS Children's Villages. Each time you share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action) to support children worldwide affected by crisis. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.

This past year was a particularly horrific one for children.

In 2014, the Ebola virus, the continuing combat in war-torn Syria and natural disasters left children in several corners of the world traumatized at best, and orphaned at worst. Perhaps reading about these sobering events has moved you to take action, and if so, I'm right there with you.

In 2007, I was part of a team that hatched an idea several years previously in a classroom. As part of a design school course I was taking while doing my MBA at Stanford, we were challenged to build an incubator that cost less than 1 percent of the price of a state-of-the-art incubator. My classmates and I were floored by the ambition of this challenge, but we jumped in anyway. By the end, we had actually developed a product that met the criteria and was suitable for developing countries, where most of the world's preterm babies are born.

So we set to work prototyping, calling our invention the Embrace Infant Warmer.

The whole team moved to India, home to 40 percent of all the world's pre-term and underweight children, and the country I would live in for the next four years. By 2012, our idea had grown into both a nonprofit and a for-profit social enterprise devoted to helping mothers, babies and clinics throughout the developing world. Our innovation was having a real impact on the lives of preterm babies in the developing world, and I had the chance to witness the grateful tears of mothers face-to-face. I had the opportunity to see that a mother, no matter how poor, or impoverished or uneducated, will do anything to save her child -- and to witness every day the most beautiful and selfless form of love in the world.

It was deeply moving work, work that I felt incredibly fortunate to be a part of.

Now, as any entrepreneur -- especially one in the social enterprise space -- can tell you, there are distinct sacrifices that come with the job. As Embrace (our nonprofit) and Embrace Innovations (our for-profit arm) were growing and I was taking on more responsibility, while at the same time living in a place halfway around the world that was far away from my home, friends and family, I began to seriously assess these sacrifices, and wonder if I was truly up for the challenge.

It was at that precise moment that baby Nathan was discovered.

Nathan was a tiny baby, born at just under two pounds. He was abandoned on the side of the road in central China just after his birth, and the odds were so severely stacked against him that he shouldn't have survived at all. Miraculously, he was discovered by a nearby orphanage (Little Flower Orphanage), with whom we had just launched a program a few days earlier. They had an Embrace Warmer on-hand, which they kept Nathan in for 30 days. Thanks to the warmer and Little Flower's loving care, this teeny, hypothermic infant survived! It was the first time a baby of that size had survived in the orphanage, and when I went to visit him at seven months old, I found a healthy, interactive baby boy.

Visiting the orphanage and meeting Nathan for the first time made a huge impact on me. It was amazing to witness the strength and resilience of this little boy, who fought for his life and survived. A few months later, I received an email from a family in Chicago telling us they had adopted Nathan. Nathan now had a family! It was one of the happiest days in this journey, and honestly, in my life.

Nathan's story is one of over 150,000+ babies who have been helped by the Embrace Warmer so far across 10 countries.. But get this statistic: Every year, more than one million babies die on the day of their birth.

As children like Nathan have taught me, many of these babies don't have to die. Here in the U.S., we have access to the best medical resources in the world. But in developing countries, where most of these deaths occur, babies (and their mothers) aren't so lucky.

I believe our society should be measured by the way we care for the most vulnerable beings in our world. So I see it as our responsibility to help even the scales, and to commit our considerable resources, innovation, creativity and problem-solving to children who just so happened to be born into less fortunate circumstances. My life is devoted to being a children's advocate, and it's survivors like Nathan who inspire me every day and make every moment of my work so worthwhile.

By sharing, you make a difference for kids in crisis: From March 23 until April 24, each time you 'like' or share this post via the social media icons above or comment in the section below, Johnson & Johnson will trigger a $1 donation (per social action) to SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest organization dedicated to orphaned or abandoned children, up to $30,000*. $1 provides food, shelter and medical care to a child in crisis. In addition, you can also Donate A Photo** and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for SOS Children's Villages -- you can help raise up to $20,000 in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.

Johnson & Johnson, SOS Children's Villages and The Huffington Post created the Relay for Kids to support children around the world who have been affected by poverty, conflict, disease and natural disasters. Visit to learn more.

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Editor's Note: SOS Children's Villages is a partner of Johnson & Johnson, which is a sponsor of The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section.