– America’s last iron lungs: Incredible video shows polio survivors whose life saving-equipment is repaired by car mechanics and engineers after health insurers and manufacturers stopped covering the devices 13 years ago:
- Paul Alexander, 70, of Dallas, is one of just a handful of people around the world who still relies on an iron lung to help him breathe
- Manufacturing ceased in the 1960s and now polio survivors such as Alexander are forced to rely on car mechanics and engineers to fix the life-saving device
- Alexander spends almost every moment in the device after contracting polio as a five-year-old in 1952
- Martha Ann Lillard’s crippling illness has made her a prisoner in her own home for more than 60 years after she was paralyzed by polio at age five
- She says that modern alternatives to the iron lung are simply not as efficient
- Her iron lung runs on a fan belt motor that friends help patch together with car parts when it breaks
- The last big outbreak of polio in the US took place in 1952, but polio was eradicated by 1979 thanks to the vaccine
Meet America’s last iron lung users.
Once the most feared virus on the planet, polio was wiped out in the United States in in 1979 thanks to the success of the vaccine.
But while that’s good news for the world, a few polio survivors who rely on iron lungs to help them breathe are struggling to cope with their decades-old machines which are no longer covered by their insurance or serviced by manufacturers who stopped production in the 1960s.
Paul Alexander, 70, of Dallas, is one of just a handful of people around the world who needs the iron lung to survive.
* * *