Paul Alexander, a man who has been in iron lungs for 70 years

Paul Alexander, who was paralyzed in 1952 at the age of six, is now one of the last people on earth to live with an iron lung.

Monica Verma / TwitterPaul Alexander was diagnosed with polio when he was 6 years old and is still there.

The life of Paul Alexander can be seen as a tragedy: a man who could not breathe on his own was paralyzed for seven decades due to paralysis. However, the only thing that is tragic about Paul’s story is that it emphasizes how quickly some people can give up when they are in trouble.

The iron lung is a branch-like, full-body mechanical respirator. It can breathe for you because you can’t get oxygen normally. Like paralysis, you become paralyzed and die without the help of an iron lung.

In fact, all doctors believed that Paul Alexander would die in 1952. She remembers being in the hospital’s polio ward and hearing doctors talking about her. They said, “He will die today.” “He shouldn’t be alive.”

It made him want to live even more. So Paul Alexander did what his iron lungs did very Few people can do it. He taught himself to breathe in a different way.

Paul Alexander became ill with polio and began a new life in the iron lungs

According to The Guardian, Paul Alexander was hospitalized in Texas on a hot July day in 1952. Pools were closed, cinemas and other places were almost everywhere. The polio pandemic intensified, and people took refuge in their homes, fearing a new incurable disease.

Alexander suddenly fell ill and entered the house. His mother knew; it was already like death. He called the hospital and the staff told him there was no room. It would have been better if he had just been cured at home, as some have done.

But five days later, Alexander stopped working. His breathing ability was also slowly disappearing.

His mother beat him in the ambulance. Doctors said they could do nothing. He was put in a garrison and left in the hallway. But a doctor in a hurry saw him and thought that the boy still had a chance, so he called Paul Alexander for surgery for a tracheotomy.

He woke up with an iron lung, surrounded by a sea of ​​other children among the giant fans. He was unable to speak due to the operation. Months later, he tried to communicate with other children through facial expressions, but “every time I became friends, they would die,” recalls Alexander.

But he did not die. Alexander was just practicing a new breathing technique. Doctors believed that he would die there and sent him home with an iron lung. On the contrary, the child is obese. The memory of the muscles was relieved, and after a while the iron was able to spend an hour outside the lungs, and then two.

At the urging of his physiotherapist, Alexander trapped the air in his throat, trained his muscles to pass air through his vocal cords and into his lungs. It is sometimes called “frog breathing” and if he can do it in three minutes, his therapist promises to buy him a puppy.

It took him a year to work up to three minutes, but he didn’t stop there. Alexander wanted to play outside with his new puppy in the sun, which he called Ginger.

A person with an iron lung seeks education

Paul Alexander Younger

Gizmodo / YouTube He enjoys life despite his polio.

After leaving the hospital, Alexander became friends and was able to leave an iron lung for a long time, and some afternoon he was pushed around the neighborhood in a wheelchair. But during the day, her friends were busy with one thing she longed for: going to school.

His mother taught him the basics, but the schools did not allow him to study at home. Eventually, they got used to it, and Paul quickly recovered the time he had lost while in the hospital. His engineer, Alexander, created a pen that hung on a stick that he held in his mouth.

As time went on, months and years went by – and Paul Alexander graduated from high school with an almost straight A. Previously, he was able to spend several hours in a wheelchair instead of an iron lung. His friends, who pushed him around, now take him to restaurants, bars and movies.

He applied to the Southern Methodist University, but they rejected him only because of his disability. However, Alexander did not give up. Finally, he persuaded them to allow them to participate – they did so on only two conditions. To reach the class, Alexander had to receive a newly developed polio vaccine and an assistant.

Alexander still lived at home, but that will soon change. He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, moved to a dormitory, and hired a caretaker to help him with physical assignments and hygiene.

He graduated in 1978 and entered graduate school with a degree in law – he did it in 1984. While taking law exams, Alexander got a job teaching legal terminology at a trade school. He passed away two years later.

For decades, he worked as a lawyer around Dallas and Fort Worth. He would be in a wheelchair in court carrying his paralyzed body. At the same time, he developed a modified form of breathing that allowed iron to be outside the lungs.

Alexander even went out to vote in the November 1980 presidential election and made headlines for everything.

Paul Alexander Polio

Dream Big / YouTubePaul in his legal years.

Paul Alexander Today

Today, at the age of 75, Paul Alexander leans almost exclusively on his iron lungs to breathe. “It’s tiring,” he said of the frog’s learned method of breathing. “People think I’m chewing gum. I turned it into art. ”

He always thought that polio would come back, especially recently parents are refusing vaccines. However, the pandemic of 2020 threatened Alexander’s current life. If he catches COVID-19, it will certainly end tragically for someone who has overcome many obstacles.

Now Alexander surpasses both his parents and his brother. He even surpassed his original iron lungs. When the air began to flow, he posted a video on YouTube asking for help. A local engineer found another to repair.

She fell in love too. While in college, he met Claire, and they married. Unfortunately, the interfering mother does not want to get married, and even Alexander does not continue to talk to his daughter. “It took many years to recover from it,” Alexander said.

It relies on technology for a living, but for things like that. The Amazon echo sits close to his iron lungs. What is it mainly used for? “Rock n roll,” he said.

Alexander wrote the book, and his name is correct Three Minutes to the Dog: My Life in the Iron Lung. It took him more than eight years to type on his keyboard with his pen or sometimes to write to a friend. She is now working on her second book and continues to enjoy life – reading, writing and her favorite dishes: sushi and fried chicken.

Although he now needs almost constant care, there seems to be no slowing down of Paul Alexander.

“I have big dreams,” he said. “I don’t accept their limitations in life. I will not do it. My life is wonderful. ”


Next, read about how Elvis persuaded America to get the polio vaccine. Then rebuild your faith in humanity through these 33 positive stories from history.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.