Man Living in Hospital for 45 Years [PHOTOS]
By Reissa Su | August 5, 2013 4:18 PM EST
Imagine living in a hospital for 45 years as a patient. This is the story of Paulo Henrique Machado who has spent almost all his life in a hospital. He had infantile paralysis when he was a baby due to polio. He has been living in a hospital in Brazil, Sao Paulo's Clinicas, for 45 years because he needs to be hooked up to an artificial respirator every day for 24 hours.
Despite his medical condition, Mr Machado has learned to become a computer animator and is currently involved in making a television series about his life. Brazilian-born Paulo Machado's first memories were moving around the hospital in a wheelchair.
Mr Machado has explored all the corridors of the hospital he has lived in for 45 years. He remembered going to the other rooms of children who were also confined during that time. This was how he discovered his universe with doctors and nurses as parents.
Mr Machado's mother had died when he was only two days old. He contracted polio as an infant, a result of one of the last polio outbreaks in Brazil.
Ligia Marcia Fizeto is Mr Machado's nursing assistant. She began working at the hospital just days after he was born. Ms Fizeto recalled it was sad to see the children lying on their beds, almost not moving at all.
Children who were diagnosed with polio in the 1970s had slim chances of reaching adolescence based on doctors' grim assessments. Children with polio were locked in a "torpedo" or a body-encasing iron lung. Few children in the hospital's polio ward were expected to have a life expectancy of just 10 years.
Despite Mr Machado's limited movements, he made friends with other children in the ward. His friends - Eliana, Anderson, Pedrinho, Luciana, Tania and Claudia, were with him for more than 10 years. He cherished their friendship. As a child, he could not imagine that he would lose his friends to polio.
By 1992, some of his friends had deteriorating health. He watched his friends die one by one until they were nothing but a memory. It was difficult for Mr Machado to see his friends lose their lives to polio. He said each death was dismembering. He now has only one childhood friend left - Eliana.
Doctors were puzzled how the two polio patients have outlived fellow patients for so long. Mr Machado wakes up in the ward with his bed facing Eliana. Some people thought that he and Eliana were more like husband and wife, but Mr Machado believes they were more like brother and sister.
He believes Eliana gives him strength and vice-versa. They both trust in each other and he considers his relationship with Eliana crucial.
The risk of infection is always there. This is the reason why Mr Machado and Eliana had to stay in the hospital. As he got older and medical equipment became less bulky, Mr Machado has gone out at least 50 times in recent years.
Eliana Zagui spends her time writing in the ward. She is a published author and uses her mouth to paint. Since Mr Machado and Ms Zagui have lived in the hospital for so long, the hospital allowed them to decorate their rooms. Mr Machado has two powerful computers which he uses to train as an animator.
Mr Machado has successfully raised funds of $65,000 to produce a 3D animated film series known as the Adventures of Leca and her Friends based on a book written by Ms Zagui.
Both are excited about their project and can't wait to see the whole animated series. Long-time nursing assistant, Ligia Fizeto can't help but feel proud of their achievements.
To contact the editor, e-mail: