Due to the advancements in Medical science, many diseases have been largely eliminated from the face of the Earth. Half a century ago when Polio was rampant, many young children were affected by it. It paralyzes muscles and stops them from working. Many people used to be paralyzed from this deadly disease and now it has been mostly wiped off from the face of the Earth due to aggressive vaccination campaigns.
Very few polio affectees got a rare condition in which their chest muscles collapsed. The lungs inhale and exhale air by contraction and expansion of these muscles, so it became nearly impossible for them to breathe. This is where the concept of an iron lung was born. The iron lung isn’t so much of a lung; rather it is a rigid case fitted over the patient’s body that helps pump air in and out of the body through mechanical pumps. The poor patients of this disease spent a majority of their lives stuck in this iron case as they can’t leave it for more than a few seconds.
Since the disease was eliminated years and years ago, nobody knows about these iron lungs anymore. They have gone out of favor in the medical community and companies have stopped making parts for them altogether. There are only ten surviving iron lung users right now, and six of them are based in the US and one of them is Paul Alexander, who is 68 years old. He was paralyzed the crippling disease when he was six years old, and it had an overbearing effect on his life ever since.
He can move his head, neck, mouth but unable to do anything else, and his life depends on the artificial assistance from the iron lung. But even in this miserable condition Alexander has shown how adaptable the human body is. He has been trained involuntary breathing, and he can escape the confines of the metal beast for a few hours at a stretch. He even got college education and became a practicing lawyer. He regularly gives lectures on his life and tries to help people as much as he can. His resilience is astonishing to say the least, and he sets an example for the crippled in the rest of the world.
Thanks for creating this, very revolutionary, the Iron Lung is!