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August 17, 2011

Dianne Odell: Woman On Iron Lung Loses Fight For Life

An amazing story came to an end on Wednesday when a power failure hit Tennessee. A woman who had lived on an iron lung for over 60 years. She died when a power failure stopped the electric lung she had survived on for almost six decades. Dianne Odell was stricken with polio when she was three years old. After her bout with the disease left her without full control of her lungs she lived in a 750 pound iron lung.

During her life Dianne was able to get a high school diploma and take college classes. She wrote a book about a start named Blinky. She had a positive attitude and kept her head up high even though she was not bale to physically hold her head much higher than her body. A power failure was the thing that took Dianne for this world. The electricity to her tubes was shut off and she was unable to breathe. Her loved ones worked to get a generator going to save her bit power was out for up to 80 miles northeast of Memphis. This chance occurrence took Dianne Odell, a woman that took what life gave her and made the best of it from the world.

Geneva and Freeman Odell, Dianne’s parents worked to save her life but their efforts were in vein. The emergency generator did not come on and they were unable to get it working. Other family members worked to get an emergency hand pump going but they were not able to save Dianne.

Heavy storms in Tennessee were responsible for knocking out the power in several different areas. The local power company had a large range of power outages to work with and were not able to get the power back on in Dianne’s region in time.

Dianne suffered from bulbo-spinal polio which she got just a couple of years before the vaccination was available. Polio left Dianne crippled and in need of an iron ling for the rest of her life. Many others that suffered from polio were able to use a more portable version of the device but Dianne had to use the huge iron lung because of the specific polio she had.

In 2007 Dianne turned 60 and she had a wonderful celebration of her life. People from around the world responded to her birthday, sending well wishes. However, I think the most important part of Dianne’s life was her parents. They had a child that could have been put in a home and locked away. There are places where people that can not care for themselves can be housed, like animals. The Odell’s did not go that route. They decided to care for Dianne no matter what the cost.

In turn the Odell’s were able to give their disabled child a chance at life. Dianne was able to feel the love of her family through more than just casual visits to a center or cards that arrived on birthdays and holidays. I think that we all can learn a lesson from the Odell’s. Yes, Dianne died after a power failure but it is the life she was able to live because she was loved that counts.

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