The 73-year-old woman who still sleeps in an iron lung

Originally published at: The 73-year-old woman who still sleeps in an iron lung | Boing Boing


It’s mainly because this horror has mostly died of living memory that we now once again have to deal with anti-vaxxers and Covidiots. I have no doubt that all of this woman’s immediate family got the jab.


When this NPR article was published there was some criticism for not mentioning who had been helping her with new collars in the past few years.

Here’s a 2017 Wired article that does mention Naomi Wu:

and a 2019 video where she made some collars:


Thank you for posting this addition. I had hoped that the story would draw makers out of the woodwork to manufacture those parts. Sounds like that’s already taken place- at least for one of the critical components. I can’t imagine why npr chose to omit that detail. It certainly makes the story better to know that people have taken on the challenge to keep her iron lung going.


YEah, thank you for sharing!


Are more modern ventilators and respirators unable to assist in her breathing like the iron lung can? The article says the other technologies are inefficient compared to the old tech, but why is that? Doubt anyone here might know the answer but can’t hurt to ponder out loud.

If the iron lung is a more efficient method then seems like there’s room to create something more up to date and efficient using the iron lung as a point of reference.

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I think that modern ventilators are smaller and cheaper, but require intubation. So they are also much less comfortable and require medical assistance.


the difference is between negative pressure ventilation, which is what the body is designed for, and positive pressure ventilation, which it is very much not. There are certainly folks who are on long term positive pressure, I take care of some. But they require a tracheostomy, bypassing the defenses of the upper airway, and can lead to more complications. Negative pressure is much more physiological, but absolutely not portable like positive pressure can be. It’s all about the trade offs. If she only needs it to sleep, I can understand her not wanting to go through the disfiguring procedures required for a conventional vent.


She’s undoubtedly outlived all the old repair people. I can see why it would be hard to find professional service technicians who are willing to work on this machine.
Perhaps marry a person for their repair skills?


When will Elon Musk show up with an extraordinary useless solution to Martha’s difficulties?

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Careful there, if you point out how useless his crap is he’ll accuse you of crimes, and get away with it, because richest dude on earth.


For anyone not familiar with Naomi Wu, she, unfortunately, gets a fair amount of, both social and mainstream, media mistreatment, not just because she’s a young woman in a male dominated hobby. But also because she’s a young woman, with a very obviously enhanced bust, to an extent normally associated with sex work, in a male dominated hobby.

Which means that sometimes she’s ignored, sometimes she’s banned from funding platforms (though that’s a bit messy), and other times she’s disbelieved. Like the whole “fake geek girls” thing, but for the maker community. People, one of whom very influential, claiming that she’s merely a model and that there’s actually a collective (the implication being they’re men) doing the real tinkering under her name. That sort of thing.

She was banned by Patreon, because she doxxed a Vice reporter in retaliation for them outing her as a lesbian, after asking them not to include that info in the published article. She lives in mainland China. Which isn’t quite so progressive on LGBTQ+ issues. I should add that a major reason she gave them such access into her daily life was to dispel the persistent rumors of her being a fraud.

She was also temporarily banned by a competing funding platform she moved to, and then reinstated, with no explanation ever given. At least publicly. The rumor is that it was because of their rule against pornography, despite her not producing pornography.


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