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Life-Saving Device Depends on Someone Calling Your Name

In 2018 Rosalind Picard, an MIT professor and follower of Jesus, helped invent a simple life-saving device that can be used by persons with epilepsy. It looks like a smart watch, and it is sold under the name Embrace.

Epileptic seizures take 3,000 lives per year in the United States. Most epileptic seizures pose a risk of asphyxiation. This can be prevented if somebody nearby ensures that the person’s airway remain open and the person is resting safely. But some seizures are so deep that the person’s body can completely shut down for lack of signals from the brain.

There is one noninvasive intervention that works far better than any other. It can interrupt the misfiring neurons and establish normal brain function within a few minutes. Another person needs to speak to you and gently touch you, ideally calling you by name.

This intervention must happen within a matter of minutes for the person to survive such a seizure. This means that the only person who can come to the rescue is someone nearby. The Embrace device is designed to alert the nearest person on a list of people the user trusts, ideally including close neighbors. People often cling to their cell phones in case a loved one should call with an emergency, but for this kind of emergency, a cell phone is of no use. Only the nearest person can do anything about it.

Surviving this kind of episode is possible if you have a neighbor you trust to speak to you and touch you and call you by name. It is possible, that is, if you and your neighbor are living a fully personal life. If you’re willing to know and be known by your neighbors and depend on them at the moment of profound vulnerability.


Andy Crouch, The Life We’re Looking For (Convergent, 2022), pp. 80-81

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