Iron Lung Exhibit in Naperville

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Rotary International’s iron lung exhibit was outside Mesón Sabika for Naperville Rotary Club’s latest meeting.

The device is one of thousands used to keep people alive during the polio epidemic in the 1950s. Severe cases of the disease would cause serious muscle weakness.

“Oftentimes it was limbs, arms, and legs, where children couldn’t walk right or could use their arms. In extreme cases it would attack their diaphragm so they couldn’t breath, and that’s what the iron lung does, it helps them breathe,” said Rich Tatara, foundation committee chairman for the Rotary Club of Naperville.

Today, the machine is nearly obsolete thanks to a global effort to eradicate polio with vaccines.

Fewer than 200 cases of polio occurred in four countries worldwide in 2017.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.