Paul Alexander: Man Who Lived In An Iron Lung For 70 Years Passes Away

A man who spent seven decades living inside an ‘iron lung’ after contracting polio as a child has passed away.

Paul Alexander, who contracted the virus in 1952, sadly passed away on Monday. He was paralyzed from the neck down and had been taken to the hospital with Covid.

At the age of six, Mr. Alexander found himself in the hospital after experiencing a fever and sore limbs.

After contracting polio, his health began to decline, leading to the need for a doctor to perform a tracheotomy. This procedure aimed to alleviate the congestion in his lungs and improve his condition.

Mr. Alexander relied on the iron lung to aid his breathing when the polio infection had devastated his internal functions.


The device operated by utilizing a motor-powered set of leather bellows to suck air out of the cylinder, which in turn created a negative pressure that caused his lungs to expand.

As the air was reintroduced, his lungs deflated due to the change in pressure, which ultimately sustained his life.

After being discharged from the hospital, he returned to his home in Dallas, Texas. To assist him in his daily activities, his father ingeniously attached a clear plastic stick, approximately one foot in length, with a pen attached at one end. This innovative device allowed him to write and operate buttons on various devices, including mobile phones.

Afterward, he mastered the art of independent breathing and could venture outside the iron lung for brief intervals. Remarkably, he pursued higher education and earned a law degree, eventually practicing law professionally.

In April 2020, he also released his memoir.

During the polio outbreak in the 1950s in the US, he was one of the many children who were placed inside iron lungs.

Iron lungs were also utilized in the United Kingdom. The last individual to rely on an iron lung in the UK passed away in December 2017 at the age of 75.

In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, he emphasized the importance of mental strength in achieving success, stating, “I realized that if I wanted to make something of my life, it had to start with a strong mindset.”

Tributes poured in for Mr. Alexander after his passing.

Christopher Ulmer, the person responsible for creating a GoFundMe page to support Mr. Alexander’s care expenses, expressed heartfelt sentiments by saying, “Paul, you will be deeply missed, but your memory will always be cherished.”

“Thank you for sharing your story with us.”

Philip, his brother, expressed gratitude to everyone who contributed to the fundraiser.

He expressed his gratitude to all those who contributed to his brother’s fundraiser.

“He was able to live his final years without any stress, and it will also cover the expenses for his funeral amidst this challenging period.”

Reading all the comments and realizing how many people were inspired by Paul is truly incredible.

Polio, a severe infection, has become exceedingly rare in both the US and UK due to the success of vaccination programs.

The chances of contracting it are now very low, and it is only found in a few countries.

Health officials have declared a national incident following the identification of the polio virus in sewage samples collected from London between February and May 2022. However, no associated cases have been reported thus far.

Polio-caused paralysis has not been reported in the UK since 1984.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, polio outbreaks were a common occurrence, which made it one of the most dreaded diseases globally.

In 1916, a devastating outbreak occurred in New York City, claiming the lives of over 2,000 individuals. This outbreak stands as a significant event in history due to its appalling death toll. Similarly, in 1952, the United States experienced its most severe recorded outbreak, which resulted in the tragic loss of over 3,000 lives. These outbreaks serve as grim reminders of the devastating impact that infectious diseases can have on communities.

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