Has Polio Canada found the oldest living polio survivor?

    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW/ - Margaret Rubena Kiehna may be the oldest living
polio survivor in Canada. At almost 98 years old, Rubena's story of
determination would be remarkable on its own - but coupled with the fact that
she has achieved such longevity as a polio survivor makes her life even more
    Rubena was born in Toronto on May 25, 1909. At the age of 3, she was
diagnosed with polio, and the muscles in her right leg never developed. She
knew that she would never be able to run or ski, but her determination enabled
her to excel in other talents. Rubena became a teacher, postmistress, farmer's
wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
    Her husband of 63 years, Herbert, passed away in 2000 at 94 years old.
Until January 2006, Rubena continued to live alone in her home, getting around
with a walker. Eventually this became too tiring for her and she moved to a
nursing home.
    Rubena now lives in Temiskaming Lodge in Haileybury, Ontario. Her mind is
still sharp, and she enjoys visits, cards and letters from family and friends.
    Polio Canada discovered Rubena as part of its effort to archive the
stories of polio survivors across Canada and ensure they are not forgotten to
time. The organization is dedicated to preserving the memories of polio
survivors, their families and those who cared for them, and will be posting
the stories on its website (www.poliocanada.com) and in its literature.
    "The history of polio is still being written as global eradication
efforts continue, but many already have a story to tell," explains Kim Dowds,
Associate Director of National Programs for March of Dimes Canada. She
continues, "Rubena's story is certainly exceptional, and so many Canadian
polio survivors have unique tales to share of their personal experiences with
a disease that has affected millions worldwide."
    Archiving the experiences of survivors of polio has become even more
important as many of the over 125,000 Canadian polio survivors are once again
battling the virus in the form of post-polio syndrome.
    It has not been understood by most doctors, and in the 1980's medical
researchers confirmed that many survivors of polio would develop post-polio
syndrome later in life, a condition with symptoms that include weakness,
fatigue, breathing and swallowing problems and muscle atrophy. In fact, it is
estimated that up to 50 to 70 percent of polio survivors may experience the
disabling effects of post-polio syndrome 25 to 45 years after their initial
recovery from polio.

    Polio Canada and hundreds of local volunteers across the country are
working to raise awareness of the late effects of polio and post-polio
syndrome. With March designated as Polio Awareness Month, Polio Canada has
increased its efforts to educate the public about post-polio syndrome.
    If you or someone you know would like to share your polio story or know a
polio survivor older than Rubena Kiehna, please call 1-800-480-5903 or e-mail
    Polio Canada(R), a program of March of Dimes Canada, is the leading
service provider of education, information and peer support to polio survivors
across Canada.

    March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization
providing support services to people with disabilities, their families and
caregivers across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Dowds, Associate Director, March of
Dimes Canada, 10 Overlea Blvd., Toronto, ON, M4H 1A4, Phone: (416) 425-3463
ext. 7211, Toll Free: 1-800-263-3463 ext. 7211, Cell: (647) 294-4123, Fax:
(416) 425-1920, kdowds@dimes.on.ca, www.marchofdimes.ca

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