Thank The AC Boardwalk Baby Incubator Exhibit For Saving Your Preemie’s Life
If you or any of your children were born prematurely, you can thank Dr. Martin Couney for giving them a shot at life.
If you're never heard of him, that's probably because he died in the 1950s. Couney's claim to fame were his "baby exhibits" that he first was a part of in Europe, but eventually brought over to the United States. Many sources attribute the invention of the incubator to him, although that's not exactly true. While he did study with the team that's responsible for the invention, it wasn't he himself who invented it. In fact, there's no proof that Martin Couney was even a real doctor.
What he did do, however, was save thousands of children's lives who otherwise would've died back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Couney is responsible for setting up two very well known premature baby incubator exhibits on the East coast, 1 in Coney Island, NY and one on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Medicine hadn't advanced during Couney's time to where it is in present-day, so preemie babies were often just left to die. It's because of Couney's insanely clean and sterile incubator exhibits that, yes, in fact, really did feature the treatment of real infants, that we've come so far in neonatal care. It's wild to think that Atlantic City had a huge part to play.
Couney's exhibits featured nurses and wet nurses who cared for the newborns around the clock. Multiple sources report that he was a bit of a perfectionist, enforcing all white uniforms for his staff as well as maintaining an exceptionally clean facility where the exhibit was housed on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
By the time the exhibits shut their doors in the late 1940s, out of the over 8,000 babies that were part of the exhibit over, over 7500 were successfully nursed back to health. The coolest part about Couney's treatment for these infants was that it didn't cost the parents a dime. The admission fee to enter the exhibit was more than enough to cover the cost of treatment while also making Couney a very wealthy man.
Who would've thought that the early years of neonatal studies all started in South Jersey?