Dr. Martha Bruce shares her Shriner’s experience

Local News

Meet a woman who one day as a teenager found herself almost unable to move. 88 year old Dr. Martha Bruce is an educator.  She’s taught domestically and around the world, but some of her fondest memories are from Shriner’s Hospital for crippled children.  And, Martha says she wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Shriner’s.

“I had a pleasant experience. It was probably among the happiest days of my life…  Shriner’s saved my life.”

Her journey began more than seven decades ago, when Dr. Bruce was just 15 years old.  She had visited her sister, who was being treated for polio at a regional hospital near her hometown.  “And I kissed my sister goodbye. And two or three days later, I began to feel sick. Nauseous. And I laid down on the couch; and when I tried to get up off the couch, I couldn’t get up.”

Martha, who lived with her family in Farrell, in Mercer County, was also diagnosed with polio, a potentially deadly disease.  Over the course of a few months in 1944, she was treated at area hospitals and even sent back home before her family physician discovered Shriner’s.

“There was no hesitation. Shriner’s took me in and took good care of me for nearly a year… about 11 months.”  During that time, she developed strong bonds.  “We were like a family. We had a lot of fun and got into a little bit of mischief… Not too much.”

In spite of the fun, the road to recovery was tough.  But, with the help of Shriner’s, Martha says she’s gone on to live a purposeful and fulfilling life.  “All you have to do is try and you’ll do it. You’ll overcome anything that seems to be standing in your way, now. Don’t let it stop you.”

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