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Woman dies after life spent in iron lung

Medicine 2008

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#1 Hambil

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:20 AM

Wow. Just when I think I've heard it all, and nothing can move me or surprise me, I read this today on CNN headline news. Almost 60 years in an Iron Lung. The amazing will of the individual, along with the dedication of her care givers to avoid bed sores and infections... what an incredible story. I want to know more. The article leaves a lot of questions unanswered.



For almost 60 years, Dianne Odell lived inside a 7-foot-long metal tube, unable to breathe outside it but determined not to let it destroy her spirit.

From her 750-pound iron lung, she got a high school diploma, took college courses and wrote a children's book about a "wishing star" named Blinky.

"I've had a very good life, filled with love and family and faith," she said in 1994. "You can make life good, or you can make it bad."

Odell, 61, died Wednesday when a power failure shut off electricity to the tube and stopped the pump drawing air into her lungs.

Edited by Hambil, 29 May 2008 - 03:21 AM.

#2 Omega


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Posted 29 May 2008 - 10:54 AM

A power failure?  All that work to take care of her, and they didn't have a decent backup supply?

#3 FrostAbode


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Posted 29 May 2008 - 11:57 AM

View PostOmega, on May 29 2008, 10:54 AM, said:

A power failure?  All that work to take care of her, and they didn't have a decent backup supply?

Well, the article does say


Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working after a power failure knocked out electricity to the Odell family's residence near Jackson, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, brother-in-law Will Beyer said.

Murphy's Law, I'm guessing.  Still that's a shame.  :(
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#4 Omega


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Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:47 PM

Sorry, I missed the link, and didn't see that when I looked for info on my own.  What a horrifying feeling that must have been, trying to make equipment work when a loved one's life depends on it...

#5 Rhea


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Posted 29 May 2008 - 07:57 PM

The poor woman had a spinal deformity (caused by the polio) that made it impossible for her to use newer technology that would have freed her from the iron lung.


Iron lungs were largely replaced by positive-pressure airway ventilators in the late 1950s that give users much more freedom of movement. But a spinal deformity from the polio kept Odell from wearing a more modern, portable breathing device.

And then to have had a backup generator and not be able to start the damn thing....her family must be devastated.  :(


. Though confined inside the 750-pound apparatus, Odell managed to get a high school diploma, take college courses and write a children's book about a "wishing star" named Blinky.

"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, president of the West Tennessee Health Care Foundation which helped raise money for equipment and nursing assistance for Odell.

Odell accepted her life with grace, McMeen said.

"Everyone she encountered came to her because they cared about her," he said, "so she grew up in her 61 years thinking every person is good."

Rest in peace...
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