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60 Years in an Iron Lung and still smiling

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  • 60 Years in an Iron Lung and still smiling

    Woman marks 60 years in iron lung

    6th April 2009

    AN Australian polio victim confined to a Melbourne hospital and an "iron lung" respirator for the past six decades completed her 82 birthday on Sunday.
    June Middleton, who entered the Guinness Book of Records three years ago as the person who had spent the longest time in an iron lung, had 160 well-wishers around her bedside.
    Middleton reportedly still takes pleasure in visiting St Kilda beach, where she swam as a child. She travels there in a special van.
    Middleton was rendered a quadriplegic when she contracted polio at the age of 22 - just a week before she intended to marry.

    There are now few people confined to the telephone box-sized iron lung, which inflate the lungs of those like Middleton who can't breathe on their own.
    Middleton has other methods of artificial respiration, but an iron lung has been her constant companion since 1949.

    (has video)
    Woman marks 60 years in an iron lung

    Sunday, April 05, 2009 ยป 10:43pm
    June, who can only move one finger and her face, marked the event with friends at her home at Yooralla's Ventilator Accommodation Support Service (VASS) in Thornbury, in Melbourne's north.
    The service opened in 2007 and supports people who need constant ventilator assistance to have their own homes and independence.
    With her pooch Angel by her bedside, June described life in an iron lung.
    'It's hard to explain but it's what you gotta do, make the most of it, get over the obstacles on the way,' she said.
    June was glad to be surrounded by friends and 'still be here to enjoy it'.
    'It's lovely to catch up with all of them,' she said.
    Despite its name, the iron lung is in fact a large wooden box that June lies inside, many times larger than the modern-day ventilator.
    Nurse Robyn Gamilis said June usually comes out of the 'box' for four or five hours a day, when she wears a smaller 'chesty', or temporary respirator.
    June is one of up to possibly three people in Australia living in an iron lung, Ms Gamilis said.
    June's friend Hazel Sullivan, 65, who met her as a teenager, said she was an inspiration.
    June was to be her bridesmaid at her wedding but got sick, though she still managed to attend the event.
    'She's been marvellous,' Ms Sullivan said.,00.html

  • #2
    Wow, what an amazing tale of survival! Good for her!


    • #3
      Remarkable will to survive! I'm amazed at medical marvels.


      • #4
        I wonder why she never switched to a smaller vent. I would think she could have a lot more freedom and ability to get around.
        C2/3 quad since February 20, 1985.


        • #5
          Not sure, this article just says:

          "The bellows which sits outside this room and piping through the wall to the other end of the iron lung that creates the negative pressure within the iron lung that expands the chest and the abdomen...
          MICK BUNWORTH: June Middleton is thought to hold the world record for using the iron lung, an antiquated piece of technology which still remains her best treatment option. Using her one good finger to activate an automated page turner allows June Middleton some semblance of independence and a chest respirator allows her to leave the iron lung, sit up in her day bed and chat to a parade of friends that just seems to get bigger with each passing year."

          The only reason I've seen given for someone still using one elsewhere was spinal curvature. I'm not sure what her reason is though.