Polio victim ticks off 60 years in an iron lung

April 5th, 2009 - 7:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 5 (DPA) An Australian polio victim confined to a Melbourne hospital with an “iron lung” respirator for the past six decades completed her 82nd birthday Sunday.
June Middleton, who entered the Guinness Book of Records three years ago as the person who had spent the longest time in an iron lung, had 160 well-wishers around her bedside.

Middleton reportedly still takes pleasure in visiting St Kilda beach, where she swam as a child. She travels there in a special van.

Middleton was rendered a quadriplegic when she contracted polio at the age of 22 - just a week before she intended to marry.

Thousands of Australians died, and tens of thousands were crippled, in the polio outbreak of 1949.

Polio has been eradicated from the developed world because children are vaccinated against it at birth.

There are now few people confined to the telephone box-sized iron lung, which inflate the lungs of those like Middleton who can’t breathe on their own.

Middleton has other methods of artificial respiration, but an iron lung has been her constant companion since 1949.

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