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Subject: Verena Loertscher, author

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Date Posted: September 24, 2002 12:18:46 EDT

Verena Loertscher, a woman completely paralyzed for nearly 46 years but who wrote her autobiography with the aid of a specially adapted typewriter, has died. She was 73.
Loertscher was stricken with polio in October 1956 at the age of 27, and spent the rest of her life on an artificial respirator.

"I never died even though I wanted to die a hundred times," she told a regional newspaper, Der Bund, in 1983 after the completion of her autobiography "Paralyzed but Alive."

The newspaper on Tuesday disclosed her Aug. 22 death in a long article devoted to her bravery.

In a painstaking process that took her eight years, Loertscher wrote her book by sucking and blowing on a breathing tube hooked up to a specially adapted typewriter. For the letter A, she had to suck once, wait for a second and then blow once. She blew once, waited for three seconds and blew again for the letter B, said the newspaper.

Mentally agile until her death, she later in life switched to using a computer.

She spent most of her invalidity at Bern's main Inselspital and was transferred to the Wittigkofen nursing home 10 years ago. She died there, said a member of staff, who didn't wish to give her name.

Loertscher had three children, all born before she was paralyzed, and 11 grandchildren.

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