The invention of the modern ventilator
Friday, 14 August
In August 1952, the Blegdam Hospital in the Danish capital Copenhagen was overwhelmed by hundreds of seriously ill polio patients. During the first weeks of the epidemic over 80 percent of the patients died, most within days of admission. The patients, who were mostly children, were dying of respiratory failure. Desperate for a solution an anaesthetist, Bjørn Iben, came up with a strategy that led to today’s ventilators and revolutionised medicine. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Anne Holton who was a medical student at the time of the polio epidemic and helped treat patients.
Photo A medical student in Denmark 1952 treating a polio patient in Blegdam Hospital, Copenhagen. Credit used with permission of Jørgen Viby-Mogensen.