Medical inflatables from Houston highlight Wilton Blueberry Festival

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WILTON — Four medical inflatables are ready for viewing during the 32nd annual Wilton Blueberry Festival.

The large replicas of the body and organs can be viewed and even walked through from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday under a tent in Kineowatha Park off High Street.

Lauren Hill, president and founder of Medical Inflatables of Houston, Texas, came with her team and the organ replicas.

“I wanted to come to Wilton to meet and put a face to that voice,” she said of festival organizer Shannon Smith. “She is inspirational.”

Choosing health education for the festival theme this year, Smith sought to bring all four of Hill’s inflatables to Wilton.

“It’s the first time they have all been shown together,” Smith said of the exhibits as she watched a crew of employees from Walmart and Wilson Lake Inn help set up and inflate them.

Boxed for transport, the body, 50 feet in length, weighs about 1,200 pounds; the heart, 375 pounds, she said.

A crew of ten flew to Boston on Wednesday and drove to Maine to start setting up Thursday morning. Smith had a large tent installed to keep the inflatables from getting wet.

All that is needed now is a few more volunteers to man the display and direct people through it on Friday, especially from noon to 3:30 p.m., she said. To volunteer, call Smith at 778-4726.

Part of the Houston crew will there to direct the volunteers, she said.

A seat belt re-enactment called “The Convincer” was on its way Thursday from Boothbay, Smith said. It allows people to experience a crash both with and without a seat belt. It will be set up near the inflatables.

The Healthy Community Coalition mobile unit also will be parked nearby. Staff will offer services from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Janis Walker, program manager, said.

They will offer free blood pressure screenings, along with cancer prevention education with a focus on colon and skin cancers, she said.

“For those who qualify, we will give out a colon cancer screening-test kit,” Walker said. “The screening is a non-invasive test that people can do in the privacy of their own home. The screening is provided free through a grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation.”

They will also provide information on nutrition, Lyme disease and exercise with fun activities planned to engage youth in physical activity.

Hill, who previously worked in medical marketing, said she would attend health forums, pass out brochures and talk about health issues.

People mentioned that it would be nice to see how a heart worked. Hill went online to see if such a structure existed. A replica of a heart was found in Philadelphia, but it was a permanent structure and she couldn’t bring it to Houston, she said.

Working with cardiologists, Hill went to work to see if she could create an inflatable heart replica. The doctors suggested tipping the heart and adding a defect, a congenital heart issue that one in 1,000 babies are born with, she said.

The inflatable Mega-Heart can be walked through, and the observer can learn about the different chambers and how they work. Hill recently received a patent for it.

When she took the Mega-Heart on the road, people told her that they also wanted to know more about strokes and how to recognize the symptoms of one. They suggested she create a Mega-Brain.

While many people may think the No. 1 killer of women would be breast cancer, it’s actually lung cancer. Women who have never smoked or been around secondhand smoke can still be at risk, she said.

Creating a Mega-Lung came next. In addition to lung cancer, the lung addresses issues like asthma and bronchitis.

Finally, the Mega-Body was created, providing viewers the ability to pinpoint organs as they look within the body.

There is no charge to view the medical inflatables. Smith has raised funds, sought donations and had gathered almost enough to cover the cost to bring them to the Blueberry Festival, she said.

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