Polio | Action Medical Research

children from polio

children from polio

More than sixty years ago polio was one of the most feared diseases in the developed world, killing hundreds of children in the UK each year and leaving thousands paralysed.

In the early 1950s, 8,000 people were paralysed by polio each year in the UK. Tragically, five to 10 per cent lost their lives after their breathing muscles became immobilized.

Children have always been at the heart of what we do. Our founder Duncan Guthrie's daughter, Janet, contracted polio as a child and Action played a crucial role in the development of the first UK polio vaccines.

World Polio Day on 24 October is in honour of the birthday of Dr Jonas Salk, who led the team that developed the first polio vaccine.

The history of polio

Find out more about polio and how Action has been helping to protect children from polio since 1962

Memories of polio

John Prestwich caught polio when he was just 17 and was in hospital for 16 years, the first seven in an iron lung.

Christine Beet kindly shares her memories of polio.

Polio in pictures

Take a look at these historic pictures from our polio appeal back in 1959

Today in the UK, there are hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled children who need help. Which is why we find and fund the best research to help these children.

Surprisingly medical research to help children is poorly funded in the UK. Action has a critical job to do in helping fill this gap to protect children. The prospects for finding new cures and treatments are almost within our grasp. We have vital research ready to go – we simply can’t fund it all.

With your help we’re determined to change this and make a real difference for children.

Please donate today

Our current research

We’re currently funding research to help sick and vulnerable babies, help children with disabling conditions and target rare diseases.

Our successes

We’ve played a significant role in many medical breakthroughs for over 60 years, not just polio.

Real stories

Meet some of the families who are living with conditions we’re helping to better understand.

Help us spread the word