Breathing new life into a relic


An iron lung saved Vera Junek’s life. Nearly 80 years later, laborious research and good fortune delivered it to her daughter in Ridgway. With a bit of financial help, it could soon find a new home in the ranch history museum

Ridgway resident Joan Chismire stands next to the iron lung that saved her mother’s life nearly 80 years ago. Businessman and entrepreneur Larry David found the medical device that helped polio patients breathe wasting away in a South Dakota construction yard nearly a decade ago. He bought, refurbished and delivered it to Chismire last weekend.
  For 30 years, the long, heavy metal cylinder wasted away. It was the first tank respirator used in South Dakota, purchased with funds raised by a local American Legion chapter and donated to the hospital in Deadwood. More commonly known as an iron lung, it had saved a teenage girl’s life, giving her breath that polio stole from her. But the device was eventually moved to a hospital that was…

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