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This is Rosanna, the girl who spent 29 years in the 'steel lung'

This is Rosanna, the girl who spent 29 years in the 'steel lung'

Have you ever heard of steel lungs? The girl in the picture is Rosanna Benzi who spent 29 years without moving and without losing the smile on her face. He looked at the world through a mirror and was all the time inserted into the steel device, into the artificial lungs. He remained so until the day he died at the age of 43, in an Italian hospital.

The "iron lung" is an artificial respiration device, the main use of which is to keep polio patients alive. The first widely used steel lung was born in 1928 thanks to Philip Drinker, a Harvard professor. Drinker was conducting an experiment as he realized he could stimulate breathing through pressure changes by pumping air manually inside and outside the box.

With the development of the polio vaccine experimented with by Jonas Salk in 1952, the use of iron lungs decreased significantly, except in patients affected by polio before the vaccine was invented. Among the people who spent the most time inside a steel lung were Martha Mason and June Middleton, who lived more than 60 years inside one of these machines.

In the past nearly thirty years inside a steel lung, which she lovingly called 'my water heater', Rosanna Benzi has never stopped fighting for the rights of the disabled.

A severe form of polio totally paralyzed Rosanna in 1962, also causing her severe breathing problems. Rosanna, who was only 13 years old at the time and lived a normal and quiet life in Alexandria, was not vaccinated because at that time it was not yet mandatory. She was taken to hospital where she entered the "steel lung", never to be left again.

Beginning in 1976, Rosanna Benzi wrote two books and founded a magazine, Gli Altri, from the pages of which she launched several important awareness campaigns on the issues of people with physical disabilities suffering from social exclusion.

Rosanna thought she had the right to love, to have an active sex life, to have children, just like any other woman. He tried to fight for these rights, even though he found it impossible to detach himself from the steel device.

* Roba Da Donne article was adapted in Albanian by Tiranapost.al