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The images are from another place and time, grainy, black and white photos among an archive of American experiences from “back in the day” and they appear in my mind when I think about the word “polio.” One of these ancient photos is of a warehouse-sized room filled with row after row of capsules each containing a person, like some strange 1950s era sci-fi movie. Dozens of nurses in old-style uniforms and caps are buzzing around the tubes. The capsules have viewing windows, access ports, gauges and dials and at one end a pressurized seal where each patient’s head extends outside the tube. The scores of tubes in the image are iron-lungs, the much feared last resort treatment for the thousands and thousands of Americans afflicted with polio who, because of paralysis, were unable to breath on their own. Their lives were extended through the pumps that provided negative air pressure, taking over the function of their ineffective diaphragms.

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by Pat Ryan It was an odd convergence of events that struck me as I was driving across Monterey Mountain in the snow last week. President Obama was hosting the health care “summit” in Washington and I was keeping up with the partisan back and forth on the radio. Meanwhile I was thinking through the […]


Ending Polio – Video

January 2, 2010

Patrick Ryan of the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club talks about the January 30, 2010 International Night fundraiser to support Rotary’s international service programs like polio eradication. for more information.

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