Voices of polio survivors

Ann Lee Hussey administers polio drops to a child in Chad in 2013.

Ann Lee Hussey administers polio drops to a child in Chad in 2014.

By Rotary Voices staff

Stories from polio survivors remind us why we have spent three decades committed to the pursuit of wiping this crippling disease from the face of the earth. Below is a brief summary and a link to a few of those stories shared on Rotary Voices and elsewhere. Also watch our World Polio Day global update to see how close we are to ending polio.

Ann Lee Hussey contracted polio when she was 17 months old. A member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA, she has taken part in countless National Immunization Day trips to immunize children with the drops of oral polio vaccine. She first shared her story on our blog in this post from October 2013.

Kerry Jacobson contracted bulb-polio at the age of seven, in 1952. He spent several weeks in a hospital ward with other children, some in iron lungs, before being released and undergoing rehab. He still suffers from Post Polio Syndrome, and donates proceeds from his memoir to support the PolioPlus effort.

Peter Kavanagh was infected at the height of polio season in August 1953, just around the time Jonas Salk began performing trials on his polio vaccine. Kavanagh’s whole family was quarantined for a time, and he spent a year isolated in the hospital. The full account is captured in his book, “The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times.”

Linda Christianson was stricken with polio at the age of seven months. It took many years of corrective surgey before she could move about brace and crutch-free. She spends many World Polio Days telling her story to classrooms of children.

Ayuba Burki Gufwan is a member of Rotary and polio survivor in Nigeria, who founded Beautiful Gate to turn bicycle parts into wheelchairs for Nigerian polio survivors.

Patrick J. Bird contracted polio at the age of four during the epidemic of 1940, and spent 19 months away from his family in a reconstruction home. He shares his story, presented mainly from the child’s point of view, in “A Rough Road.”

Paul Alexander has been in an iron lung since he was six years old in the late 1950s. By forcing air into his lungs, he is able to manage short periods outside his device. About a year ago, he had a business meeting with a Rotary member, and learned all Rotary has been doing to end polio. He is now a member of the Rotary E-Club of District 5810 and a sought-after speaker.

Grant Wilkins, a past RI director and member of the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, contracted Bulbar Polio as a young father of three. His first wife also contracted the disease, and spent two and a half years in an iron lung before a chest respirator helped her breathe and allowed her to come home. He first shared his story in a post for our blog in October 2013.

3 thoughts on “Voices of polio survivors

  1. Pingback: eClub Meeting 7 – Voices of Polio Survivors | Rotary eClub of District 5960

  2. Pingback: Voices of polio survivors | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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