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Former Honolulu councilmember Leigh Wai Doo reflects on life with polio

This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle. On Thursday, July 21, 2022, New York health officials reported a polio case, the first in the U.S. in nearly a decade. (Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP)
Sarah Poster and Meredith Boyter Newlove from the CDC via AP
This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle. (Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP)

Former Honolulu councilmember and attorney Leigh Wai Doo contracted polio at 9 months old in Hawaiʻi — the only one of six siblings to be afflicted. He used braces and arm crutches throughout his professional life and in political service. But a bout of post-polio syndrome affected his upper body strength. Today, he uses a motorized scooter and says he is a bit fearful of the return of polio.

leigh wai doo.jpg
Courtesy Leigh Wai Doo
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Leigh Wai Doo with his grandson, top.

The longtime Palolo resident is celebrating his grandchild’s first birthday this week. His grandson lives in London where earlier this year they discovered the polio virus in wastewater. Health officials in Great Britain are urging children be vaccinated for the disease — for which there is no cure.

Speaking to The Conversation, Leigh Wai Doo reflected on his life with polio and uncertainty with this resurgence of cases.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Aug. 29, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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