Polio campaign brings iron lung to Thornbury to highlight ongoing fight against disease

January 26 2018
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AN iron lung will be on display in Thornbury to raise awareness of the continuing campaign to eradicate polio.

AN iron lung will be on display in Thornbury to raise awareness of the continuing campaign to eradicate polio.

Although the disease has largely been eliminated around the world, it remains endemic in a few countries.

Rotary clubs internationally, together with the developer of the oral polio vaccine, Albert Sabin, began a campaign in 1979 to rid the globe of the infectious and serious illness by immunising all children - a move that is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

To highlight the work still going on to achieve that aim, Thornbury Rotary Club will display the iron lung outside Tesco in Thornbury on Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17.

The iron lung was developed in the first half of the 20th century to help those with polio whose chest muscles became paralysed, resulting in them being unable to breathe.

They would be put inside an iron lung, which originally used vacuum cleaner engines to supply external positive and negative pressure to the patient’s chest, thereby facilitating breathing. 

Today the iron lung has been replaced by positive pressure ventilators that operate through a hole in the windpipe but the relic serves as a reminder of many devastating diseases that could return if vaccination levels fall.