May 12, 2009

Martha Mason, dead at 71. Ms. Mason died on Monday at her home in Lattimore, N.C. She was 71 and had lived for more than 60 years in an iron lung. In the centuries to come it is my firm belief that it is vaccination that will be seen as _the_ medical advance of our time.
  • she was pretty amazing, and luckily seems to have had the wherewithal to educate herself and to lead a relatively normal social life. I can't even imagine the issues she faced with a non-responsive body over all those years. Her care-givers must have been wonderful. When I was a little kid, in the 1940s, the March of dimes would collect money during intermissions when you went to the movies (shows always included 2 features, a newsreel, a cartoon, and, frequently, a "short subject" so you were there for several hours.) They'd often show films of people in iron lungs, and and I can still remember the sounds - like breathing, but really loud. it was scary enough that I always had my dime ready to fend off the disease.
  • Fascinating story, thank you - and certainly reinforces your true point about vaccinations.
  • Amazing woman, amazing life. Yes, vaccines. Although, the eradication of smallpox was a true scientific and political miracle.
  • Prior to this post, the entirety of my knowledge of the iron lung was limited to Weird Al Yankovic's "Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung." I am guessing it was not one of Martha Mason's favorite songs.
  • I am vaccinating the hell out of my boy. Skipping the shots doesn't help. Humans generally don't cooperate well on a world scale. There's a damn good reason why so much effort went into eliminating so many horrible diseases through vaccination. Every time we don't give our own kids the shots, we're shitting on every person who devoted themselves to removing these diseases, and allowing these damn diseases a chance to come back from the brink of extinction through our own obstinate refusal to see the good for fear of the entirely unsupported claims of a vocal minority.