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Woman spent 60 years in Iron lung and died in most unfortunate way

Woman spent 60 years in Iron lung and died in most unfortunate way

She'd been inside the metal machine since she was three years old

A woman who'd spent almost all of her life inside of an iron lung ended up dying in rather sad circumstances.

Dianne Odell was confined to her seven-foot-long metal tube since the age of three after contracting polio.

That infection was often the cause for people ending up inside iron lungs but since a vaccination programme was introduced, it’s now very rare.

The long metal cylinders were designed to stimulate breathing in patients, with near enough their entire body contained inside.

The 61-year-old lived at home inside the machine near Memphis, Tennessee.

But back in 2008, a thunderstorm knocked out the power to her home.

And as a result, the machine helping her to breathe was shut off.

This wasn’t the first time the iron lung had cut out, so her family were prepared.

Dianne Odell.
Star Centre

Her dad was a World War II veteran and had installed a generator into the backyard as back up power in case something were to happen.

However, the emergency generator didn’t start up properly.

Odell’s dad and brother-in-law, Will Beyer, then took it in turns to pump the iron lung by hand but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough.

As reported by The Independent, Beyer said: “We did everything we could do but we couldn't keep her breathing.

''Dianne had got a lot weaker over the past several months and she just didn't have the strength to keep going.''

Odell was paralysed by bubospinal polio at the age of three and was believed to be the longest survivor of the disease.

She spent her life in the 750-pound machine, with only her head exposed and made eye contact with visitors through an angled mirror.

Odell could also operate a TV using a small blow tube and would also write using a voice-activated computer.

She spent over 50 years in there.

Despite being originally told by doctors as a child that she did not have long to live, Odell went on to graduate from high school, take courses at college and even write a children’s book.

Her family’s life revolved around looking after her, never leaving her at home alone and never taking holidays.

Even on Christmas Day, they would squeeze Odell and her big, long metal tube into the dining room for dinner.

Beyer added: “It was like having a sick child who never got better. But she was a very unique person, and her family took care of all her needs.

“To let her go is very hard, Dianne was always a fighter. No matter what anyone said, you couldn’t count her out.”

Featured Image Credit: Star Centre/Heathline

Topics: Health