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60 years in an iron lung: US polio survivor worries about new global threat

12.01.2013 · Posted in Other Health Concerns

It’s a long way from central Oklahoma to Syria, but one of America’s last iron lung survivors says she’s a living reminder that an outbreak of polio anywhere in the world is a danger everywhere.

Martha Ann Lillard, now 65, has spent most of the past six decades inside an 800-pound machine that helps her breathe. News this month that at least 13 children have been paralyzed by a resurgence of polio in Syria — where the disease had been eradicated since 1999 — filled her with sadness and dread, she told NBC News. At least four additional cases have been confirmed in the country, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

“If my mother would have had the opportunity to give me the vaccine, she would have done that,” says Lillard, who was a kindergartner in 1953 when she woke up with a sore throat that quickly progressed to something much worse — a life-threatening infection with poliovirus.

“To let somebody go through what I went through and what other children went through. What if people had to do that again? It would be just unbelievable.”

read the complete article from NBC news – click here

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2 Responses to “60 years in an iron lung: US polio survivor worries about new global threat”

  1. Can she live with oxygen now? Could that replace her time in the iron lung?

  2. It’s interesting, Bunny. Ms. Lillard says that she is most comfortable in the iron lung, although she does leave it sometimes. It seems that because the problem is paralysis caused by polio, oxygen doesn’t help. She needs the positive air pressure in the iron lung to move air into her lungs for her. She says that the portable vents don’t work as well for her.

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