76-year-old man, paralyzed from polio at 6, is one of the last people with an iron lung: ‘My life is incredible’

Imagine living inside a metal canister for most of your life. That’s the reality for Paul Alexander, a 76-year-old man who has defied the odds and embraced life, despite being one of the last people in the world still using an iron lung. This remarkable machine, which dates back to 1928, has allowed Paul to breathe and experience the world around him.

Paul’s journey began when he was just six years old. He ran into his family’s home in Dallas, Texas, feeling unwell. Little did he know that his life was about to change forever. He was diagnosed with polio, a highly contagious virus that can cause paralysis. Despite the odds stacked against him, Paul never accepted the limitations others placed on his life.

Paul in the iron lung

Paul spent 18 months inside the iron lung, recovering from the initial infection. During that time, he was surrounded by rows of other children also relying on the machine for survival. It was a dark period, with thousands of people affected by polio in the United States. But Paul’s will to live was stronger than ever. Despite doctors predicting his demise, he proved them wrong.

In 1954, Paul was finally discharged from the hospital. However, his new reality proved challenging. People were uncomfortable around him, unsure of how to interact. But with the help of a dedicated therapist named Mrs. Sullivan, Paul gradually regained his independence. He learned a technique called “frog breathing” which allowed him to breathe without the iron lung. As a reward for his perseverance, Mrs. Sullivan promised to get him a puppy if he could do it for three minutes straight.

Paul and Mrs. Sullivan

Paul’s determination paid off, and he was able to spend more and more time outside of the iron lung. He graduated from high school with honors, without ever physically attending class, and went on to attend college and law school. He even became a successful lawyer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, proving that his disability did not define him.

Throughout his life, Paul has faced many challenges, but he has never given up. Even now, at 76 years old, he continues to inspire others with his story. Paul’s iron lung is a relic from the past, as modern ventilators have replaced it. But he prefers the familiarity of his trusted machine, a constant companion throughout his life’s journey.

Paul and his iron lung

Paul’s journey is a reminder that we should never let limitations define us. His extraordinary life shows that with determination and resilience, we can achieve our dreams, no matter the obstacles in our path. Please share Paul’s story with your friends and family. Let his indomitable spirit ignite hope and inspiration in others.