Mar 18, 2010

Dianne Odell had spent six decades encased in the machine


A lifetime in an iron lung: courage in the face of a cruel disease

Stricken in childhood by polio, Dianne Odell had spent six decades encased in the machine that kept her alive until a sudden power failure this week. Guy Adams salutes a woman of rare fortitude
Friday, 30 May 2008




Dianne Odell watches her favourite soap opera at home in Jackson, Tennessee, last year
For the first time in almost 60 years, Dianne Odell's family home was silent yesterday. Only a string of well-wishers interrupted the eerie calm that pervaded the house where, for as long as anyone can remember, a noisy electric motor had powered the massive "iron lung" pumping air in and out of her body.
Just 24 hours earlier, thunderstorms had blown trees on to a power-line near the modest house in Jackson, Tennessee, setting in train a tragic series of events that would shut down an enormous metal machine that had kept the 61-year old woman alive since she was a toddler.
Shortly after 3am, Ms Odell's father, Freeman, and brother-in-law Will Beyer realised that their emergency generator had failed to kick in, and attempted to fit another artificial respirator. When that wouldn't work, they tried pumping the iron lung manually in a last, desperate attempt to feed air into her lungs.
But Dianne Odell could not be saved. She died a few minutes later, finally falling victim to the appalling condition that had first touched her life at the age of three, and would eventually turn her into a remarkable and world-famous symbol of suffering – and hope. "We did everything we could do, but we just couldn't keep her breathing," Mr Beyer said yesterday. "Dianne was a very unique person. But she had gotten weaker over the past several months and she just didn't have the strength to keep going."
Ms Odell was believed to be the world's longest-surviving victim of polio to have spent almost her entire life inside an iron lung, a now virtually obsolete medical device that keeps patients alive by forcing air in and out of their paralysed bodies.
She had been confined to the 7ft, 750lb metal tube – which mostly remained in the living room of her parents' home 80 miles north-east of Memphis – since 1950, when she had fallen victim at the age of three to a severe case of "bulbo-spinal" polio.
This crippling disease, which has since been eradicated in the developed world through vaccination programmes, forced doctors to encase her in a sealed cylindrical metal container, which produced alternately positive and negative pressure that allowed her lungs to expand and contract. Although experts at the time gave her just a few years to live, Ms Odell remained lying on her back, with only her head extending from the mechanical device, for nearly six decades.
She was cared for by her close family together with a community of friends and admirers, with whom she made eye contact through an angled mirror. Despite the difficulties of Ms Odell's condition, she managed to get a high-school diploma, take college courses, and even write a children's book about a "wishing star"' called Blinky – all from the confines of the living room of her home at 133 Odell Street.
A small television set was mounted on a frame above her head and operated with a blow-tube. She wrote on a voice-activated computer. And over the years, as her fame grew, she touched the lives of thousands of supporters and fellow-sufferers around the world.
For her 60th birthday party in February last year, she was painstakingly transported inside the machine to a local hotel, the last time she would ever leave the house. Tributes poured in from Hollywood stars – including the actress Jane Seymour and her husband James Keach. Al Gore also paid homage.
"Dianne was one of the kindest and most considerate people you could meet. She was always concerned about others and their well-being," said Frank McMeen, a family friend and president of the West Tennessee Health Care Foundation, which ran a fund to help finance her treatment.
"Each of us grows into our world, but Dianne's world was a bed in her living room. But as we took people to meet her, they also became her world, and she adapted. She tutored children; she spoke to the Rotary Club; she became a remarkable person who managed to do a great deal with her life. Right now, her family is suffering from their loss. But her legacy will provide comfort."
Behind Ms Odell's achievements were her mother, Geneva, and father, Freeman, who were determined to care for her at home, even when Medicare, the public health insurance scheme, announced that it would only fund her treatment if she were moved to a nursing home.
In addition to raising the $80,000 it cost to care for Dianne each year, they devoted themselves to making her life as normal as possible. Freeman, a Second World War veteran and professional telephone engineer, installed a speakerphone system connecting their home with the Jackson Central-Merry High School, so that Dianne could listen in to lessons during her teenage years.
She later used the device to study at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. Although her condition eventually forced her to withdraw, she was awarded an honorary degree from the institution.
In 2001, Ms Odell used a voice-activated computer to write a children's book about a small star who wanted to become a "wishing star" in order, she told interviewers, to show youngsters, especially those with physical difficulties, that you should never give up. She even became a political activist, helping to canvass for state senators via telephone.
Although in recent years she suffered from a series of mini-strokes, her death came as a shock to fellow victims of polio, who regarded her as a poster-girl for the handful of Americans still forced to use iron lungs on either a constant or occasional basis.
"Her story leaves me with mixed emotions," said Richard Daggett, a polio survivor from Downey, California. "Obviously, she triumphed for very many years, despite tremendous health problems, and that's joyful. But while we all must die eventually, the circumstances of Dianne Odell's life and death make it particularly sad for her family and friends.
"An iron lung can be a strange place to be. It's not unpleasant most of the time. You are comfortable and of course you are kept alive, but it can be frustrating if, for example, you have an itchy nose and are totally unable to scratch it. But it's as gentle a form of artificial respiration as you can hope for."
Joan Headley, of Post Polio Health International, a charitable organisation in St Louis, said that about 30 people in the United States still rely on iron lungs, although few users are confined to them all the time. No one keeps records on the longest confinement. "Some people just use them to sleep, but Dianne was an extreme case," she said. "But for all that, she went to school and she got an education, and she made people aware of the plight of other polio sufferers, so we have to admire her."
In Jackson, a town of about 50,000, the community that has for decades rallied round the Odell family, are determined her name should survive. Frank McMeen said yesterday that any remaining money in the Dianne Odell fund will be used to set up an endowment for disadvantaged children. The iron lung will be donated to the local museum.
At the Church of Christ, where the Odell family worship, they will say farewell next week – and may draw comfort from the words of the woman who was incarcerated for so long. "I remember walking to a ball game with daddy," she once said. "And I remember being on a train. It seems like I can remember playing out in the mud one day. But I've had a very good life, filled with love and family and faith. You can make life good or you can make it bad. I've chosen the good."
Killer disease on verge of extinction
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is an extremely infectious disease that invades the nervous system and, within hours, can cause total paralysis. It mainly affects those under five and can be fatal. It has no cure but is preventable through vaccines and has nearly been defeated. In 1988, there were more than 350,000 victims. Last year, according to the World Health Organisation, there were only 1,313 cases worldwide, mainly in Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Before the introduction of vaccines in the 1950s and 60s, polio survivors in industrialised countries were ensconced in an "iron lung" – a massive, two-ton set of bellows that breathed for them, hiding all but their head. There were more than 1,000 in use in the UK in 1939 and many people crippled in the outbreaks of the 1950s spent their whole lives inside one. They were gradually phased out and replaced by machines that allow patients to move around. In the US, in 2004, there were still an estimated 40 people in bellows.
Even the poorest, most unstable countries are capable of eradicating polio if they receive consistent funding for immunisation. Somalia declared itself officially polio-free in March. But it only takes one infected child to endanger a whole country, as was seen in northern Nigeria earlier this decade when religious leaders boycotted immunisations for fear that they were part of a Western conspiracy.

Mar 17, 2010

Una de las enfermedades que siguen dando que hablar en África


Nigeria lucha contra la polio

18 de Marzo de 2010
polio-nigeria.jpg
Una de las enfermedades que siguen dando que hablar en África y en concreto en Nigeria, es la Polio, una enfermedad que se ha superado en buena parte del mundo pero que en Nigeria sigue siendo uno de los graves problemas, sobre todo porque aparecen muchos brotes de manera constante en Nigeria y en algunos otros países. Actualmente son muchos los nigerianos los que pueden recibir una vacuna contra la enfermedad, algo que facilita que esta enfermedad pueda reducirse de manera notable, pero aún así todavía está la polio en África.
Hace algunos años se produjeron algunos brotes de polio en diferentes países y no es precisamente un buen síntoma de que la enfermedad se ha ido, sino que vuelve nuevamente a la sociedad nigeriana, infectando a muchas personas, sobre todo en el norte de este país, que es donde se están dando una mayor cantidad de casos de polio en los últimos años, algo muy preocupante y que deja claro que todavía queda mucho por hacer en este sentido, porque siempre quedará brotes de polio por resolver.
Otros países que se encuentran muy implicados en la lucha contra la polio, son por ejemplo Níger, que es uno de los países más pobres de África, pero además Costa de Marfil y Togo, son otros países que siguen luchando activamente para que esta enfermedad se pueda erradicar de manera total y contundente, algo que todavía está muy lejos para que se produzca, pero que es una buena oportunidad para conseguirlo entre todos. 

Children who suffer a permanent paralysis of the limbs due to Polio


Nigeria: The Fresh Offensive Against Polio Ruby Rabiu
Children who suffer a permanent paralysis of the limbs due to Polio require an extensive program of rehabilitation. This may include physiotherapy, braces, special shoes, calipers, and in many cases, orthopaedic surgery. A team effort from doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists is required to get each child through the ordeal. 

    

An ongoing healthy standard of living is very important to our children. A well-balanced diet, a thorough exercise regime, and appropriate healthcare can help manage the ongoing impact of Polio, as well as help in later life should the child be amongst the 25% of sufferers that will develop Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).PPS symptoms include fatigue, slow-progressive muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, and muscular atrophy. PPS can strike polio survivors anywhere from 10 to 40 years after their recovery from polio. 
Fortunately, there is no effect of the Polio virus on the brain, so these children remain completely able to take part in a normal school curriculum and achieve highly in life. 
T
he SKSN Limb Workshop fits children with the appliances they require, whether it be braces or calipers, and the school provides funding to enable the children to visit specialist prosthetic units, should an artificial limb be required. 
8 March 2010
Beginning from Saturday March 6, Nigeria joined 19 countries in West and Central Africa in a campaign to immunize over 85 million children under five years old against polio. The four-day exercise ends today.
Nigeria's effort has been supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), and other international partners.
A schedule of the programme from the UNICEF office in Nigeria shows that staff at 19,112 fixed immunization posts will immunize babies and children while 32,172 house-to-house vaccination teams and 14,224 special teams carrying vaccine cool are travelling on foot or motorbikes and in cars and boats on the door-to-door vaccination drive.
The other countries involved in this special programme include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. All these countries are in the March 6 to 9 immunization programme.
Cote d' Ivoire, Niger and Togo will join at a later date because of transition programmes currently taking place in the three countries.
The campaign is being spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a network of partners including national governments, the Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Federation of the Red Cross, as well as the UNICEF and WHO.
The aim is to reach every child under the age of five. It is considered significant because without a critical mass of children being immunized, the virus will rage on. More than 400,000 volunteers and health workers are involved in the aim to reach the targeted 85 million children.

Part of a statement from UNICEF which relates the incidence of polio in the two subcontinents, reads, "For children in West and Central Africa, the threat of the crippling disease, eradicated in much of the world, still looms. In Nigeria, the virulent polio virus is still endemic. In 2008, it spread from the north of the country to other nations in the region. Many of these countries were on the way to being declared polio-free and had successfully eradicated the virus. Yet with the movement of people across borders, and the inadequate level of routine immunization in many areas, the virus has quickly spread. Now, many of these areas are re-infected, threatening more children with paralysis and even death."
In the current logistical exercise, vaccination teams are crossing some of the toughest and most challenging terrain in Africa to reach children. The teams, equipped with special carriers that ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8 degrees Celsius, go from door to door in search of every child under five.
Experienced health workers are being deployed to locations known to be the most challenging. A special plan is in place to focus on the border areas between countries with an independent monitoring system developed to track progress. Count Down, an internet newsletter produced every two weeks by the World Health Organization in Nigeria, provides an update on the effect of polio in Nigeria within the last one year. According to the update which comes under the caption, "Total number of children paralysed by polio 26 February 2009 to 26 February 2010," Kano State presents the worst case of 70.
Kano is followed by other affected states in this order: Katsina (25), Bauchi (23), Borno (16), Kebbi (14), and Niger (13). Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kaduna states had 10 cases each, while Gombe and Yobe had nine and eight cases respectively. The states of Delta, Kogi, and Nasarawa suffered five polio paralysis each within the recorded year while Benue, Plateau and Bayelsa came down each with four. Three and two cases were recorded against Ogun and Ebonyi States respectively while Abia, Lagos, Edo and Kwara states had one each.

International Organisations
The Count Down newsletter, known fully as Count Down to Polio Eradication in Nigeria, also reports, however, that a more portent vaccine, the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV)), which was administered for the first time in Africa in Nigeria during the January National Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) would speed up the interruption of the polio viruses troubling Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
It explains in its report that the bOPV "simultaneously targets type 1 and 3 polio viruses and is at least 30 percent more effective than the traditional trivalent polio vaccine, according to a clinical field trial conducted in India."
The success of the polio eradication exercise will be significant. It will mean the prevention of a life of disability and physical hardship in communities already facing countless threats to survival.

Nigeria:The Nation Records 90 Percent Reduction in Polio:Cases
Akor Sylvester
16 March 2010
           


Abuja — Efforts to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the country last weekend received a boost, as the Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin said that Nigeria has recorded about 90 per cent reduction in wide polio virus infection in the past one year.
He said this last Saturday Polio" campaign organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Abuja.
"That is why we are staging this 'Walk Against Polio' campaign, to involve all Nigerian in the fight against polio. This is the time to double our efforts. This is also the time expected of our friends all over the world to support us in the struggle," he said.
He said that the success so far recorded could not have been possible without the support of the development partners, traditional and religious leaders, as well as the political commitment of the present administration.
Flagging off the campaign at the Old Parade ground Abuja, Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Adamu Alairo, said the FCT administration, having understood that polio could be transmitted by poor environment through contaminated food and water, laid more emphasis on clean and healthy environment.
"The polio walk is a social mobilisation strategy that seeks to create and heighten awareness about polio, and enhance community acceptance and ownership of polio eradication activities and other health services. This is expected to ensure improved quality and effectiveness in primary health care programme. This will also serve and sustain political commitment at all levels," he said.
He said the government was not only optimistic that it could totally eradicate polio, but also reduced the prevalence of other child killer disease, such as measles, diphtheria and yellow fever. He added that the involvement of traditional and religious leaders was making positive "in-road in the fight against polio."
While calling on relevant stakeholders to assist government in its resolve to free the country from polio diseases, the minister said his would continue to collaborate with the health ministry in ensuring that the country wins the battle against polio infection. 
 Nigeria: The Fresh Offensive Against Polio
Ruby Rabiu
8 March 2010
Beginning from Saturday March 6, Nigeria joined 19 countries in West and Central Africa in a campaign to immunize over 85 million children under five years old against polio. The four-day exercise ends today.
Nigeria's effort has been supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), and other international partners.
A schedule of the programme from the UNICEF office in Nigeria shows that staff at 19,112 fixed immunization posts will immunize babies and children while 32,172 house-to-house vaccination teams and 14,224 special teams carrying vaccine cool are travelling on foot or motorbikes and in cars and boats on the door-to-door vaccination drive.
The other countries involved in this special programme include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone. All these countries are in the March 6 to 9 immunization programme.
Cote d' Ivoire, Niger and Togo will join at a later date because of transition programmes currently taking place in the three countries.
The campaign is being spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a network of partners including national governments, the Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Federation of the Red Cross, as well as the UNICEF and WHO.
The aim is to reach every child under the age of five. It is considered significant because without a critical mass of children being immunized, the virus will rage on. More than 400,000 volunteers and health workers are involved in the aim to reach the targeted 85 million children.

Part of a statement from UNICEF which relates the incidence of polio in the two subcontinents, reads, "For children in West and Central Africa, the threat of the crippling disease, eradicated in much of the world, still looms. In Nigeria, the virulent polio virus is still endemic. In 2008, it spread from the north of the country to other nations in the region. Many of these countries were on the way to being declared polio-free and had successfully eradicated the virus. Yet with the movement of people across borders, and the inadequate level of routine immunization in many areas, the virus has quickly spread. Now, many of these areas are re-infected, threatening more children with paralysis and even death."
In the current logistical exercise, vaccination teams are crossing some of the toughest and most challenging terrain in Africa to reach children. The teams, equipped with special carriers that ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8 degrees Celsius, go from door to door in search of every child under five.
Experienced health workers are being deployed to locations known to be the most challenging. A special plan is in place to focus on the border areas between countries with an independent monitoring system developed to track progress. Count Down, an internet newsletter produced every two weeks by the World Health Organization in Nigeria, provides an update on the effect of polio in Nigeria within the last one year. According to the update which comes under the caption, "Total number of children paralysed by polio 26 February 2009 to 26 February 2010," Kano State presents the worst case of 70.
Kano is followed by other affected states in this order: Katsina (25), Bauchi (23), Borno (16), Kebbi (14), and Niger (13). Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kaduna states had 10 cases each, while Gombe and Yobe had nine and eight cases respectively. The states of Delta, Kogi, and Nasarawa suffered five polio paralysis each within the recorded year while Benue, Plateau and Bayelsa came down each with four. Three and two cases were recorded against Ogun and Ebonyi States respectively while Abia, Lagos, Edo and Kwara states had one each.

The Count Down newsletter, known fully as Count Down to Polio Eradication in Nigeria, also reports, however, that a more portent vaccine, the bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV)), which was administered for the first time in Africa in Nigeria during the January National Immunization Plus Days (IPDs) would speed up the interruption of the polio viruses troubling Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
It explains in its report that the bOPV "simultaneously targets type 1 and 3 polio viruses and is at least 30 percent more effective than the traditional trivalent polio vaccine, according to a clinical field trial conducted in India."
The success of the polio eradication exercise will be significant. It will mean the prevention of a life of disability and physical hardship in communities already facing countless threats to survival

Nigeria: The Nation Records 90 Percent Reduction in Polio Cases
Akor Sylvester
16 March 2010

             
Abuja — Efforts to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the country last weekend received a boost, as the Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin said that Nigeria has recorded about 90 per cent reduction in wide polio virus infection in the past one year.
He said this last Saturday Polio" campaign organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Abuja.
"That is why we are staging this 'Walk Against Polio' campaign, to involve all Nigerian in the fight against polio. This is the time to double our efforts. This is also the time expected of our friends all over the world to support us in the struggle," he said.
He said that the success so far recorded could not have been possible without the support of the development partners, traditional and religious leaders, as well as the political commitment of the present administration.
Flagging off the campaign at the Old Parade ground Abuja, Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Adamu Alairo, said the FCT administration, having understood that polio could be transmitted by poor environment through contaminated food and water, laid more emphasis on clean and healthy environment.
"The polio walk is a social mobilisation strategy that seeks to create and heighten awareness about polio, and enhance community acceptance and ownership of polio eradication activities and other health services. This is expected to ensure improved quality and effectiveness in primary health care programme. This will also serve and sustain political commitment at all levels," he said.
He said the government was not only optimistic that it could totally eradicate polio, but also reduced the prevalence of other child killer disease, such as measles, diphtheria and yellow fever. He added that the involvement of traditional and religious leaders was making positive "in-road in the fight against polio."
While calling on relevant stakeholders to assist government in its resolve to free the country from polio diseases, the minister said his would continue to collaborate with the health ministry in ensuring that the country wins the battle against polio infection.
















        




















        






























        

























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