Memories of the iron lung
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.