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Before the polio vaccine was available, people suffered paralysis from the disease and many lived in iron lungs, a vintage respirator that allowed them to breathe. Can you imagine.

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from NBC News

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

Martha Ann Lillard, of Shawnee, Okla., in an iron lung as a child. Lillard has been in an iron lung since she was paralyzed by polio in 1953 at age 5....

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We used to see these a lot in the movies. One woman--Dianne Odell-- had been confined to an iron lung for nearly 60 years. She was diagnosed with polio before the polio vaccine was invented. Odell lived in an iron lung because she had a severe case of polio – bulbar polio – which had left her paralyzed and unable to breathe on her own.

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The Iron Lung/Respirator: Invented by Philip Drinker, the first iron lung was installed at Bellevue hospital in New York City in 1927. The first patients of the iron lung were polio sufferers with chest paralysis.

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A grim reminder of bygone times is captured in this photo of an iron lung donated by the Kiwanis Club to the Alamance County community in the late 1940s. A polio epidemic sent many from our area into wheelchairs or an iron lung like the one shown here.