On Sunday August 2, 2015, the world lost a great inventor and friend. Dr. Forrest Bird, MD, PhD, ScD, DS, inventor of medical respiratory devices and National Inventor Hall of Fame inductee, passed away at the age of 94.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bird, or Forrest as he asked me to call him, a number of times while I was at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
He was a great and prolific inventor. Introduced in 1970, his invention, the Baby Bird respirator was the first low-cost, mass-produced pediatric respirator. The Baby Bird respirator has been credited by medical experts with significantly reducing the mortality rates of infants with respiratory problems from 70% to less than 10%.
In recognition of his many achievements and contributions to mankind, Forrest was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and has been the recepient of the Presidential Citizens Medal and the National Medal of Innovation and Technology. These latter two medals were awarded by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively.
What I remember most about Forrest, however, was his ability to reach out to inventors, educators and students to create a burning desire to invent. His presence in the classroom brought wide-eyed enthusiasm from students of all ages. Forrest was not one of those people that was unapproachable; he was just the opposite. He loved talking with anyone about his story and what they could learn from it.
I hope each of you will pass along your condolences to Dr. Bird’s family in this time of sorrow. We have lost a great American inventor who has given the world life saving innovations.
John Calver, UIA Executive Director