Woman who has used an iron lung for more than 65 years once got trapped and said ‘it’s like being buried alive’
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A woman once recalled the terrifying moment she got stuck inside of an iron lung.
For those unaware, an iron lung - which is its informal name- is a device that has the heads of patients sticking out of it.
It works by pushing air into the lungs of its patients by method of artificial respiration called External Negative Pressure Ventilation (ENPV).
The device was commonly used to treat people with polio - an incredibly serious infection that is very rare these days thanks to vaccinations.
And one of those who was greatly impacted by polio in the 1950s and still is to this day is Martha Lillard.
On 8 June, 1953, Martha was celebrating her fifth birthday in an amusement park in Oklahoma.
But a little over a week later, her life changed forever when she woke up with sore throat and a stiff neck.
Her family rushed her to hospital suspecting she may have polio, which medical professionals later confirmed.
Martha was in the hospital for six months, where she was hooked up to the iron lung to help with her breathing.
In fact, the 70-year-old depends on her iron lung to this day to survive, making her one of the last few in the US to depend on the machine.
The devices are actually not covered by insurance companies or serviced by manufactures, so anybody using the machine are completely responsible for its maintenance.
Martha sleeps in the machine every night, and while many who once had polio eventually ditched the machine, she never did.
Speaking to Radio Diaries in 2021, she said: "I've tried all the forms of ventilation, and the iron lung is the most efficient and the best and the most comfortable way."
Martha also recalled when she got stuck in the iron lung when an ice storm swept through Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, the emergency generator did not work, leaving her in the device without any heat.
She also couldn't call 911 as the cell towers were completely down.
"It's like being buried alive almost, you know — it's so scary," she said.
"I was having trouble breathing. And I remember saying out loud to myself, 'I'm not going to die'." she continued.
Thankfully, Martha eventually managed to get phone signal, and the emergency services were able to get the generator going again.
Traces of the virus were found in London's sewage and officials were worried that the virus might have spread through communities.
An investigation was launched to locate the source, however, it was reported that the last detection of the virus was in November 2022, and had reduced significantly.