Project “Iron Auntie” Success! Helping one of the last polio survivors in an iron lung.


Hey everyone! I just want to tell you about a really cool
project I just finished coordinating. A while ago, I heard about Martha Lillard,
an American lady from Oklahoma. I had to look for it on a map- it’s right above Texas and has a population about a quarter of Shenzhen. Anyway, Martha contracted polio when she was a little girl, and was put into something called an iron lung. In order to breath she’s slept every night
in a iron lung since 1953. During the day she uses what’s known as a positive pressure machine, but it’s just not the same and she can’t really survive with it alone. It seems that iron lungs are a bit like cellphones, gaming consoles and computers- they come out with new things they say are better, but that’s just not always true, or at least not true for everyone. Martha tried these new machines- and well, imagine your new tech device meant you couldn’t breathe? For Martha and a few others, that’s how it’s been for decades, they have carefully maintained the machines they need to breath, to live, as parts got scarce and technical assistance got more and more rare. People can be a little dismissive, imagine
someone told you- “Oh you don’t need this machine, you can breath 50% as well with this one” hell no. And that’s not to mention the risk of all
the other bad things that can happen to older people who can’t breath properly. And for what? Lack of spare parts? Then what are all our shiny tools and special skills good for, if we can’t save just one nice little auntie, right? It’s just nonsense then, just a show. I’m not ok with that. Oh by the way, “auntie” and “uncle” is what we Chinese call anyone older, it’s just a term of respect. Just so you know what I mean when I say that. Now an iron lung is an interesting device,
your head sticks out and it sort of sucks on your body to pull air into your lungs. So there needs to be a sort of gasket around
your neck. The metal parts are no problem- welders-to-watchmakers I think there’s nothing made out of metal I couldn’t source. But that gasket, that collar was very tricky. It kind of irises closed and has to be just
the right size, just the right material, with just the right amount of elasticity. Everyone said “oh it looks easy” and it does- and a lot of people tried over the years but it never fit quite right. Which means the air leaks around it, and the
iron lung can’t do it’s job. It seems it needed more than just a person
handy with a sewing machine. People tend to underestimate how tricky textiles
can be. And a lot of time wasters wanted to play clever- said they could redesign something better but quickly lost interest. What Martha needed was an absolutely perfect
copy- and for once in my life, I was proud that I come from someplace that can make an exact clone of almost anything! But, there wasn’t much time, Martha was down
to her last collar, and it was leaking- so the machine could not help her breath properly. She sent me her old, worn out one. It’s hard for me to get packages in Shenzhen,
they get stopped by customs so I had it mailed to Hong Kong and went over the border to bring it back over. Then I put out the call on WeChat to all my
tech contacts in every city in China. My pitch? We Have To Save…”Iron Auntie.” Get this, it’s like her arc reactor is broken,
and she needs this cloth part to live. You could not write a better plot-line to
get Chinese mobilized for a cause. All Chinese love Iron Man, and of course you
know how we are about our elders and we get to see who can copy something perfectly? Well, everyone wanted to show off what their university, their R&D lab, their engineers could do. And it probably didn’t hurt that I gave pretty much a blank check for any YouTube promotion they might ever want in the future
if they did this for me. A lot of these people have crowdfunding products
that they want to promote- and believe me, when they call in that marker I’m going to promote the heck out of their product without an ounce of shame. I don’t even care what it is, those folks
are getting taken care of. I got in touch with Will Wu- no relation, an engineer and entrepreneur who does a lot of work with hardware embedded textiles. His current product is a relaxation mask-
the Dreamlight. Everyone who knew him said, this is the guy. And in China, when people vouch that firmly
it means something. When it’s like “oh yeah sure, Old Wong can
maybe do it” sure they have no clue. But when everyone is like “No question, Will
Wu is your guy”- well, Will Wu is the guy. Particularly because they’re all a little scared of me and know what will happen if they send me to the wrong guy. Because I’m such a sweet docile Chinese flower. So I trusted Will with my only sample of Martha’s
Iron Lung collar, crossed my fingers and sent it to Will’s engineering team. Now…two weeks later and what do I have? Well check this out buckaroos and buckerettes-
bound for Oklahoma- 10 perfect copies. And when I say perfect copies I measured these
with the digital caliper, I don’t even know how they did it because I should have them make bras or something. Now to my eyes, hands, and instruments we nailed it BUT I’m saving a few so that if there’s a problem I can get them altered and send another batch, and if there isn’t, I can get more made and at an average of one collar a year I can make sure our 70-year-old Iron Auntie has enough parts to keep her “arc reactor” running until she’s a nice ripe 120 years old. I hope you’re as happy with this project as
I am. Please check out the link to Will Wu’s Dreamlight
in the description box, he’s good people. Lastly, the Maker movement has brought us
some wonderful ideas, but has been mostly about education and fun. There’s some work with stuff like 3D printed prosthetic hands but it really hasn’t been a core value. Hardware hackers are all about sharing- I have this, I want you to have this also. For me, I want to strengthen my commitment
to service. Those of you with tools and skills- please
think about it. YouTube’s got enough things being crushed,
blown up, modeled and tested. Let’s put some of those resources into something productive- it will be just as cool to watch. Put a sign on your garage, drop by a senior home, think local. We can’t save the world, but we can put our skills and resources to good use and in doing so challenge ourselves. Please consider taking on more Making and
DIY projects in the service of those in your community who genuinely need help, can’t get it elsewhere, and may not be aware that Makers, hardware and DIY enthusiasts- well, we can do stuff they’ve only seen on TV and we love to show off our skills for a good cause. Thank you. That’s it for today and I’ll see you all next
time.

100 thoughts on “Project “Iron Auntie” Success! Helping one of the last polio survivors in an iron lung.”

  1. That is amazing they even nailed it down to the color! I am not as tech as you hell I'm a borderline blacksmith but even just being a welder and metal fabricator I know how hard it is to reproduce/copy anything especially by hand. I have no idea how anyone could find anything about this to dislike, 43 people so far that deserve to get throat punched.

  2. In their entire history, Vice never did anything this cool!

    I am damn proud of you Naomi! This is a prime example of being the change you want to see in the world!

  3. THANK YOU, Naomi Wu!
    Of all the amazing things you do, and the amazing person you are, this may be my favorite video you've ever made.
    You almost made me cry. And made me proud to be a Maker, engineer, volunteer and SexyCyborg sponsor.
    I've been riffing on your slogan for a while, but I think I've nailed the new version: "If I can't do it, Naomi can get it done!"
    "Iron Auntie" indeed: A cultural mashup you've turned into an amazing meme. Very well done, in every way. Thanks.

  4. naomi con la intencion de querer ayudar vasta, pero el conseguirle el producto para martha es un milagro echo por ti, (moraleja; haz el bien sin mirar a quien.

  5. This is beautiful! I have been thinking there should be open-hardware designs of wheelchairs and walkers (etc.). That might also make spare parts easy to find and cheap.

  6. "All Chinese love Iron Man". Even after the Mandarin? Even though his character was "evil", he was such a badass until they revealed that he was a paid actor. Such a let down.

  7. thank you so much young lady for using your contacts to help the Iron Auntie this just shows how community minded you are thank you again stay safe

  8. Much respect to you Naomi for helping this lady.
    This is what I love about the world.
    A young lady in China can help an old lady in the USA.
    I wish the world could be much more like this all the time.

    Friend of mine had Polio as a kid.
    He was lucky that it only affected one of his leg.
    But it has obviously affected him for his entire life.

    Love your top in this video too.
    Simple polo shirt but still sexy in an understated way.

  9. Deep Respect ,that's the kind of possibilities i was looking for when i first fell in love with the Makers's movement , you don't just hope for change but Make it .

  10. Sometimes people say when they get help from someone: "you are a real life saver !"
    You are the real deal ! Thank you and Will Wu & co-workers so much for doing this.
    I hope it all works out and we get a great follow up video !

  11. very awesome and keep us posted on how well the new gaskets work. thank you for sharing this with us and hope you get your twitter back soon.

  12. Thank you Naomi, your message is very strong and inspiring. Inspiring the makers to use their skills to help people around them, is a great great message. Cheers

  13. Naomi, you are a super woman, I'm glad everything you did for the steel aunt, I think you are number 1 in technology but you are number 1 in having a good heart.

  14. Naomi, you are such an outstanding person! You give us hope that humanity is in good hands with young people of your high caliber who care about and do something to help make others peoples' live better. I am so thankful that I found you and subscribed to your channel. May all that is good in life come together to keep you safe and well.

  15. Well done Naomi. I quote you frequently in my Facebook broadcasts. Give back. You get so much more in return. Love you doll!

  16. I would have thought neoprene would have been perfect for this application, you know like a wetsuit design as neoprene is pretty stretchy. Or latex rubber might also work well.

  17. Exactly what the world needs, less weapons and more compassion, way to go Naoimi you have a heart of gold and I sincerely hope others follow your lead, you have a beautiful heart young lady.

  18. Loading some videos to watch during my flight… I guess this will be the only one without having weird looks from people next to me thinking I'm watching "porn" 🙄 . BTW, You rock 👩‍🏭

  19. Bringing to arms the the power of the Delicate Chinese Maker, good deal and glad to hear by the end you got it done many times over and from a fellow Oklahoman, many big hearts and hugs go out to you.

  20. Great story, we all need something in life, some people need Our help, take action and help where and when ever you can, you are truly a Angel.
    God Bless ….. Love your channel !!

  21. Awesome job Naomi, Great to see a Youtuber with a heart for seniors and family!! Maybe bring this guy on your channel, or tour his R&D place of work. He seems cool! 🙂

  22. Something is really wrong with some people that could down vote a project about people helping other people. Naomi you make us proud that there still humanity left in our society.

  23. Naomi, another great kindness you make me proud!!! Your captions are taking up a lot of screen space I can understand what you say lets cancel the captions.

  24. This proves something to me that I've believed for a long time. Not only are you intelligent and beautiful, you've shown us all that you also have a heart of gold for helping out someone in need. Well done, delicate Chinese flower…very well done.

  25. This is amazing. Couldn't agree more with the sentiment. The maker community is huge, spanning virtually all trades on most continents. Grateful you could help Iron Auntie, though it saddens me a bit that she couldn't find that help here in the 'States (especially in a central one like Oklahoma). We should all do better.

  26. Thank you Naomi. Our museum recently acquired one of the remaining iron lung machines. We're in the process of restoring it now. It's amazing to realize that people once had to spend much of their lives dependent on machines like these.

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