Polio survivor wants government action

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The UK Government must deliver on its commitment and work to eradicate polio globally.

That’s the view of polio survivor John Barton who is supporting the One Last Push campaign to help fight polio so that other children don’t have to go through what he did.

John (66) spent the second year of his life in Glasgow’s Mearnskirk Hospital’s isolation unit only seeing his parents for just one hour a week on Sunday afternoons while recovering from the virus.

Over the years he has had to go through a series of operations on his right leg and foot and is one of 120,000 people in the UK who are still feeling the after-effects of the disease.

John, from Avontoun Park, Linlithgow, said: “When I think of the pain and isolation I went through – and the anguish and disruption my family suffered, I don’t want anyone to go through that. There’s no reason for it when there’s a vaccine.

“Polio has had a lasting impact on my right leg, which is one and-a-half inches shorter. It impacted my schooling because I was in and out of hospital as a child and sadly my disability also made me a target for bullies.

“What pulled me through was the love and drive of my parents, Mary and Bill, a dedicated and forward-thinking medical team guided by Mr Kenneth Guest and, once I was discharged from hospital, the compassion and support of my extended family and neighbours.”

John, an avid Celtic supporter, said he hasn’t let the disease hold him back. He married his wife Anne in 1983 and they have two children Rachael (26) and Simon (22), and had a number of jobs before retiring from local government in 2012.

He hopes polio will be gone for good, only Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan have known cases of the virus today.

He added: “I want to get involved in the campaign because it’s so important to keep the need for vaccination programmes in the public eye.

“There’s lots of scrutiny of foreign aid. This is where aid should go – to support the people and programmes working to rid the world of a preventable disease.”

Linlithgow and Falkirk East MP, Martyn Day is supporting the campaign. He said: “The UK Government must keep its commitment to push for the global eradication of polio.

“With India declared polio-free in 2014, a world without polio is now tantalisingly close, and it is crucial to maintain international momentum.

“Together with One Last Push, we have the opportunity to change the world for the better and deliver a lasting global legacy.”