Paul Alexander: ‘Man in the iron lung’ dies at the age of 78

Paul Alexander: 'Man in the iron lung' dies at the age of 78

Paul Alexander: ‘Man in the iron lung’ dies at the age of 78

A tribute to Paul Alexander, who defied the odds and lived a remarkable life despite being confined to an iron lung.

Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 when he was six, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Despite this challenging start, Alexander’s indomitable spirit and determination led him to achieve remarkable feats that inspired many.

Paul Alexander: 'Man in the iron lung' dies at the age of 78
Paul Alexander: ‘Man in the iron lung’ dies at the age of 78


A Life Defined by Resilience

From an early age, Alexander faced immense challenges. The disease left him unable to breathe independently, leading doctors to place him in the metal cylinder, where he would spend the rest of his life. Despite these limitations, Alexander pursued an education, eventually earning a law degree and practicing law. His story of resilience and perseverance resonated with many.

A Remarkable Journey

“Paul Alexander, ‘The Man in the Iron Lung’, passed away yesterday,” a post on a fundraising website said. “In this time Paul went to college, became a lawyer, and a published author. Paul was an incredible role model.” His journey from the confines of the iron lung to becoming a successful lawyer and author is a testament to his unwavering determination.

The Iron Lung: A Lifesaving Device

The iron lung, which he called his “old iron horse,” became his lifeline. Bellows sucked air out of the cylinder, forcing his lungs to expand and take in air. This device allowed him to breathe, enabling him to defy the odds and live a fulfilling life.

Overcoming Adversity

Despite the challenges he faced, Alexander never lost his sense of purpose. “I knew if I was going to do anything with my life, it was going to have to be a mental thing,” he told the Guardian in 2020. His determination to live life to the fullest despite his physical limitations is an inspiration to all.

A Lasting Legacy

Advances in medicine made iron lungs obsolete by the 1960s, replaced by ventilators. But Alexander kept living in the cylinder because, he said, he was used to it. His resilience and courage earned him a place in the Guinness World Records as the person who lived the longest in an iron lung.

Remembering a Hero

Paul Alexander’s story is a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. Despite facing unimaginable challenges, he never gave up and continued to inspire others with his strength and determination. His legacy will live on as a testament to the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. 

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