If my grandmother used an iron lung I would absolutely do everything I personally could to keep it running, including servicing it and making replacement parts. But the thought of doing that for a stranger absolutely terrifies me.
I'd heard of it before, but hadn't heard it was controlled by a PDP-11. Apparently running some bare metal ASM, not multics or unix (http://courses.cs.vt.edu/professionalism/Therac_25/Side_bar_...)
To think all the reasons I ever disliked working with raw threads, could kill someone.
I know it was 1984 but if software did this today, the developers would be torn limb to limb as this is practically an interview problem.
(Potentially NSFW as this is Naomi Wu, aka @RealSexyCyborg)
To my mind, this is actually related:
One of the problems you run into with any lung related mechanical devices is the need for proper sterilization. From what I gather, this is much less of an issue with negative pressure ventilation.
People in iron lungs are people with fundamentally compromised immune systems. Exposing them to germs forced into their lungs by positive pressure while potentially damaging their lung tissues in the process strikes me as a great way to give them a deadly infection, sooner or later.
There is potential for barotrauma in improperly configured devices, especially with volume-controlled ventilation, but it's possible to configure the device to ventilate safely, otherwise we wouldn't use them. Modern devices do have safety features like high pressure cutoffs and direct pressure controls which can prevent barotrauma. Some of these have to be configured correctly by the clinician for each patient.
Regarding the link to positive pressure HVAC, I'm not sure what that has to do with medical ventilation. HVAC provides a constant flow into a room, but medical ventilation cycles to an inspiratory pressure or inspiratory tidal volume repeatedly either on a patient trigger or on a set timing schedule.
I'm still really curious if there are any Respiratory Therapists or Physicians who can speak to this?
So, yes, I feel quite confident. Though what I know and what I can prove are very different things.
Edit: I will add that I have come to believe that breathing problems inherently impair the immune system. Oxygen is one of the things the body uses to kill stuff. If you can't breathe, you are pretty vulnerable to microscopic warfare. (Another thing I know but probably can't prove, fwiw.)
I wonder if this is due to lower rates of lymph circulation, which relies on the body being in motion. The lymphatic system is a key part of the immune system.
I imagine there are quite a few factors, but I think that is a good thought. Walking a great deal -- sometimes on the order of many hours a day -- has played a large role in my successful efforts to improve my health. I am convinced that moving lymph is a very big part of that.
> When Lillard is outside of the tank, she can breathe using a positive-pressure ventilator, a smaller device that pushes air into her lungs. But that instrument doesn’t provide the same relief as when she puts her entire body into the 640-pound, 7-and-a-half-foot-long apparatus. Plus forcing air into the lungs can cause inflammation or damage the air sacs.
You're right that the trade off in quality of life is one that many people think is worthwhile.
It's possible they could be called up to retrieve the specifications and possibly the mold. It's not necessarily the case that they've destroyed or lost track of them. Notwithstanding that, it's a vacuum vessel, there are only so many ways the gasket could be designed. I'm not qualified to design a part like that, but surely there are many people who are.
Due to the mergers/acquisitions involved over the years, it's entirely possible that Philips doesn't even know exactly where their current stock came from. While I certainly believe they could be of more help than they have been, I also think people are massively underestimating how hard it might be for them to do so.