Merrill and Mother

 From a presentation given by Merrill in 2019:

"Tomorrow, I will celebrate the 5-year gift of my mother's presence after she contracted polio in 1951, not long before my 4th birthday and her 23rd birthday. Paralytic polio consists of several types based upon the part of the body affected — the spinal cord (spinal polio), the brainstem (bulbar polio), or both. Unable to breathe, speak, move her limbs, or swallow, my mother Joyce suffered from both types. After a year of hospitalization consisting of several months in an iron lung and then on a rocking bed, she was able to move her head side-to-side, swallow food, and speak, and was finally discharged to our home with a donated rocking bed. However, she was never able to move any other part of her body. She died in April 1956 following a cold that led to pneumonia.

World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. As of 2013, GPEI had reduced polio worldwide by 99%.

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free."