Forrest Bird


Editor’s Note: Forrest Bird passed away in August 2015 at the age of 94. 

Forrest Bird, M.D., Ph.D., Sc.D., is one of the world’s greatest inventors, and he’s had a front-row seat to some of the greatest and proudest moments in our nation’s history.

In the 1950s, he invented the first universal, mass-produced medical ventilator, that would breathe for everyone from the very smallest baby to the very largest adult.

After producing an adult respirator, he developed the “Babybird” for the smallest, neonatal infants, many of whom had died before he invented his tiny ventilator. He says his invention was able to breathe for the baby without destroying the tiny lungs and giving them a chance to mature. His invention took mortality rates from 65 to 70 percent down to 10 percent in under a year.

Now in his late 80s, he still works long days managing an incredible business. If you want to know how to succeed in life, look no further than aviator, inventor, biomedical engineer Forrest Bird.

He explains to Growing Bolder how his work during World War II, where he flew every aircraft the military ever made, paved the way for his many life-saving inventions, including the respirators and the modern MedEvac systems.

Forrest has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and in 2008, President George W. Bush honored him with the Presidential Citizens Medal.