60 Years in an Iron Lung

Martha Mason of Lattimore, North Carolina was a victim of polio that left her paralyzed from the neck down when she was a child. She breathed with the help of an iron lung which encased her body, leaving only her head free. Ms. Mason died last week at age 71, having spent over 60 years living inside the apparatus. There are no documented cases of anyone living as long in an iron lung.
From her horizontal world — a 7-foot-long, 800-pound iron cylinder that encased all but her head — Ms. Mason lived a life that was by her own account fine and full, reading voraciously, graduating with highest honors from high school and college, entertaining and eventually writing.

She chose to remain in an iron lung, she often said, for the freedom it gave her. It let her breathe without tubes in her throat, incisions or hospital stays, as newer, smaller ventilators might require. It took no professional training to operate, letting her remain mistress of her own house, with just two aides assisting her.

“I’m happy with who I am, where I am,” Ms. Mason told The Charlotte Observer in 2003. “I wouldn’t have chosen this life, certainly. But given this life, I’ve probably had the best situation anyone could ask for.”

Ms. Mason wrote a book about her life entitled Breathe and starred in the documentary Martha in Lattimore. Link -via Fark

(image credit: Wake Forest University)

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I was on dialysis for almost a year before my kidney transplant and it was awful and i only had to be hooked up to the the machine three days a week for four hours. I can't imagine being stuck inside that contraption for 60 years. If were stuck in there I would have been begging someone to please unplug the thing so I could pass on after about a week.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
-the tragedy is that the medical profession was aware of the published papers of Dr.Klenner,who c1947, cured almost all of his polio-stricken patients with unpatened ascorbic acid IV..
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Dianne Odell of Jackson, Tenn. died last year after 60 years in her iron lung. She passed away when the house lost power and the back up generator couldn't start.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"60 Years in an Iron Lung"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More