Paul Alexander, Renowned as the ‘Iron Lung Man,’ Passes Away at 78

The 78-year-old “Iron Lung Man,” who is renowned for having survived polio, has passed away. When Paul Alexander was six years old in 1952, he developed polio, which rendered him paraplegic from the neck down. Because the illness prevented him from breathing on his own, physicians had to put him in an iron lung, where he would remain for the remainder of his life.

In addition to publishing a memoir and becoming a lawyer, he would obtain a law degree. A message on a website that raised money stated, “Paul Alexander, the ‘Iron Lung Man,’ passed away yesterday.” “He went to college, became a lawyer, and a published author.”Paul was not your typical role model.

He was a “embracing, energetic person,” “full of big smiles” that instantly put people at ease, according to his brother Philip Alexander. To me, he was just another brother. We went to concerts together, we fought, we played, we fell in love, we split up, and he was just a typical brother, he said to the BBC. Philip claimed to have commended his brother’s level of independence, even to the extent of praising him when the latter developed a disease that made it difficult for him to take care of himself.

“He was the master of his domain, helping people,” Philip continued. Paul’s brothers gathered to spend his last days together, enjoying morsels of ice cream, as his health declined in the preceding weeks. Philip replied, “It’s an honor to be with him in his last moments.”

When he became sick in 1952, Dallas, Texas, doctors performed surgery on him, saving his life. However, the polio left his body unable to breathe for itself. Placing him in an iron lung, a metal cylinder enclosing his body up to his neck, was the solution. He called the lungs his “old iron horse,” and they gave him the ability to breathe. The device inhaled air, causing his lungs to contract and expand. His lungs suffered harm from the reversal action when the air was permitted to return inside. Thanks to medical developments, Alexander was eventually able to breathe on his own for brief periods of time years later.

He had little chance of survival, much like many others who were given iron lungs and survived polio. However, he lived for a long time because the polio virus was eliminated in the West in the 1950s with the introduction of the vaccine.

What is polio and how does it spread?

After completing his secondary education, he joined at Southern Methodist University. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a law degree in 1984. He became eligible to the bar two years later and went on to practice law for many years. In 2020, he stated to The Guardian, “I knew that if I was going to do something with my life, it would be a mental thing.” This year he published his eight-year memoir, which he wrote on a board with a plastic stylus and had transcribed by a friend.

Paul’s brother Philip claimed that he first became aware of his brother’s global impact after the book was published. By the 1960s, ventilators had rendered iron lungs unnecessary due to medical advancements. However, Alexander claimed that living within the cylinder was normal and so he kept doing so. The Guinness World Records acknowledged him as the longest-living individual with an iron lung.

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