Rotary Miles at work fighting polio in Chad

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

By Ann Lee Hussey, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA “Are you willing to lead a National Immunization Day team to Chad?” the email read. My immediate response was YES! Having worked in … Continue reading

Traveling down a rough road with polio

131107_birdBy Patrick J. Bird, polio survivor and author of A Rough Road

During the polio epidemic of 1940, I contracted polio and became ensconced for 19 months in a “reconstruction home” far from my family. I was only 4 years old, and since all the other children were at least twice my age, I was initially placed in a room by myself instead of one of the dormitories.

Enduring loneliness, painful treatments, and lengthy, frustrating rehabilitation sessions, I learned to overcome my fears and to prevail Continue reading

Remembering Jonas Salk on the anniversary of his birthday

Kurt Sipolski

Kurt Sipolski

By Kurt Sipolski, freelance writer, polio survivor, and resident of Palm Desert, California, USA 

Years ago, I founded and published a magazine for homeowners and designers, San Francisco Gentry magazine. 

It was easy to target advertisers. While homeowners don’t necessarily eat out more than renters, they sure as heck hire builders and landscapers more often.

One time, I called a fire contractor to sell him an ad. I had used him when an apartment in a building I owned caught fire. After refreshing his memory of who I was, he replied, “Oh, I  remember. You’re the cripple.”  Continue reading

We can’t afford to lose the fight against polio

Dennis Ogbe with two gold medals during the 2012 National Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

Dennis Ogbe with two gold medals during the 2012 US National Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dennis Ogbe, a Paralympic athlete from Louisville, Kentucky, USA, contracted polio as a child in Nigeria, while being treated for malaria. He eventually regained full use of his right leg, and began to compete in track and field.

As an athlete, I enjoy competition – but there is a battle happening off the field that is more important: the fight to end polio.

This fight is personal to me. I grew up in Nigeria, where I contracted polio at the age of 3. It was tough being the only kid on the playground in a wheelchair. For years I watched the other kids play, and when I tried to participate, they moved away from me. Continue reading

Traveling to Nigeria to fight polio

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

By Ann Lee Hussey, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA.

As a 17-month-old toddler, I contracted polio. Burning up with fever, I was paralyzed from the waist down. It was July 1955, only three months after Jonas Salk’s vaccine was released to the public. I was lucky to regain the use of most but not all of my leg muscles. Today, after multiple surgeries, braces, and physical therapy, I am able to walk with limitations. Continue reading

Polio did not put a brake on my life

131017_gufwan2By Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and founder/director of Beautiful Gate Handicapped People Center in Plateau State, Nigeria. Launched in 1999, Beautiful Gate has built and distributed more than 6,000 tricycle-type wheelchairs to polio survivors in Nigeria and neighboring states.

I was born in a tiny village in Plateau State, Nigeria. My mother had lost two babies before I was born, so when I came along everyone was very excited. I still remember faintly playing around with other kids. At the age of five, I came down with polio.

Continue reading

One drop away from a polio-free life

Ade Adepitan with other polio survivors in Nigeria.

Ade Adepitan with other polio survivors in Nigeria.

By Ade Adepitan, polio survivor, United Kingdom broadcaster, and former Paraylmpian.

I contracted polio at the age of 15 months while living in Lagos, Nigeria. I had been given two drops of the polio vaccine, but the virus caught me before I had the third and final drop which would have protected me for life. Continue reading

Why polio eradication means so much to me

Diane WIlkins in an iron lung

Grant Wilkins’ first wife, Diane, in an iron lung in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Grant Wilkins.

By Grant Wilkins, past RI director and member of the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, USA.

In 1951, as a young father of three children ages 5, 2, and 3-months (the youngest born prematurely and still in the hospital), I contracted Bulbar Polio.

My throat and vocal cords were paralyzed, and I couldn’t talk or swallow. A tracheotomy and intravenous feedings kept me alive for two weeks until the paralysis started letting up.

My wife came to visit me for the first time after those two weeks, and mentioned she wasn’t feeling well. A spinal tap found she had the Lumbar Polio virus, and she was immediately admitted to the polio ward. Within 24 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down and could not breathe on her own. Continue reading

How polio changed my life

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

By Eliana Zagui, author of Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung)

Before it was eradicated through the effort of massive immunization campaigns in 1989, poliomyelitis was prevalent in Brazil. The lack of vaccine and poor sanitation in small towns resulted in thousands of victims a year. Avoiding polio was often a matter of luck.

In January 1976, at the age of two, my luck ran out. I woke up with a fever and weak lower limbs. Although my parents were used to my recurrent episodes of sore throat, they brought me to the nearest city of Jaboticabal for medical treatment. The next day, lacking a diagnosis, I was sent to Ribeirão Preto, a larger city with better medical facilities. By the time the doctors Continue reading

My brush with polio

131002_hincksBy Polly Hincks, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of West Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Polio is a mystery. In its time it brought terror. It indiscriminently struck with minor flu-like illness in one person, death to the person next door, paralysis of the muscles in a leg or shoulder, or a lifetime spent in an iron lung.

I met up with this evil bug in August 1951. Continue reading