Name/TitleEquipment: Negative Pressure Ventilator (Iron Lung)
About this objectNegative Pressure Ventilators (“Iron Lungs”) had been used over many years to assist impaired respiration in patients suffering from
Poliomyelitis (“infantile Paralysis”). The standard American prototype from the 1920s was the Drinker model but this was both heavy and expensive.
In the 1937 Polio outbreak in South Australia, in response to a request from the Department of Health, the Both Brothers, Edward and Don, produced a much lighter cabinet respirator with several extra features at less than one tenth of the cost of the Drinker version. This was immediately successful and the design won world acclaim.
Edward was in England during the 1938 Polio outbreak and following a similar request from authorities there gained major financial support from Lord Nuffield of Morris Motors fame. Over 1500 Iron Lungs of the Both design were produced in the Morris factory at Cowley. The epidemic was severe and the steady output of Both respirators could barely keep up with demand.
Edward Both received an OBE in recognition of his work.
Date MadeCa 1940s
Measurements 229 x 130 x 76 cm
Subject and Association DescriptionThe Both brothers also produced the first electro-encephalograph and humidicrib, as well as x-ray equipment, nerve stimulators, foetal heart-recorders, suction units, tomographs, defibrillators, cardioscopes and blood transfusion equipment. All the apparatus was manufactured in the Adelaide workshops of Both Equipment Limited, which relocated to Tavistock Street (now Frome Street ) and later to King William Street in Kent Town .
CollectionHeritage Office, Royal Adelaide Hospital