Me­mories of the iron lung

The Oldie - - READER'S LETTERS -

SIR: With re­gard to your Olden Life: What Was the Iron Lung (March is­sue), some years ago, at an open day at Be­nen­den Chest Hos­pi­tal (as it was known at the time), I learned that the high­est in­ci­dence of TB was found to be amongst postal work­ers. It was later re­alised that the drag­ging of mail­bags across spit­tle-strewn plat­forms and pave­ments al­lowed the in­fec­tion to spread, and put at greater risk all those who han­dled them. Be­nen­den Sana­to­rium was founded to ad­dress this prob­lem. It was orig­i­nally run by the civil ser­vice, first for post­men suf­fer­ers, later for all mem­bers of the civil ser­vice, and later still for vic­tims of gas poi­son­ing in the First World War.

Martin Day, Xaghra, Gozo, Malta.

SIR: Your ar­ti­cle on iron lungs re­minded me of when I was in hos­pi­tal with an un­di­ag­nosed ill­ness. I was in an iso­la­tion ward, from which I looked down into the po­lio ward, which was full of iron lungs. The chil­dren’s heads emerged from the ends, with a mir­ror over their heads so that they could see what was go­ing on around them. I watched a mother dan­gling a toy over a lit­tle child’s head, and I saw a tod­dler strug­gling to catch a bal­loon. It was a very com­mon dis­ease at the time and I be­lieve that Lord Nuffield pro­vided many of the iron lungs. A nurse told me that the slight­est in­fec­tion would kill the chil­dren.

Jean Junt, Wood­bridge, Suf­folk.

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