Martha Mason was born in a town in North Carolina on May 31, 1937. When she was 11 years old, she discovered she was developing symptoms of polio, a disease that had already claimed the life of her brother. Because she didn’t what her parents to become anxious, Martha tried to conceal from them the fact that she fell ill with the terrible disease caused by a virus.
However, the secret was soon found out, and Martha was placed in an iron lung. This robust and scary structure makes breathing easier when a patient’s muscles don’t work properly, or their diaphragm is too weak for them to breathe on their own.
Martha has lived for 71 years, of which she spent some 61 years in the medical device; this is the longest time one has ever spent in an iron lung. Nevertheless, she never became despondent; she graduated from high school with excellent results and managed to obtain a university degree. She also got a job as a journalist, and she initially dictated her texts to his mother. As technology advanced, in the mid-nineties she started working independently using a speech recognition computer program. She also “wrote” her memoirs, which she dedicated to her mother.
One might think that Martha suffered a lot because of spending almost her whole life in the iron lung, and she might even have had thoughts of self-destruction. The truth is she never did! Martha leads a great social life, spending her days among friends and family. She admits that, incredible as it sounds, she enjoys a sense of freedom even if confined to a capsule-like contraption. At her house, she often hosts parties, book clubs and festive gatherings.
In 2003, Martha declared to the Charlotte Observer that she is happy with who she is and where she is. Of course, if she could choose, she would not choose such a life, but considering the circumstances she thinks she has had the best life possible.