Paul Alexander, also known as “Polio Man” and “The Man in the Iron Lung,” is a true inspiration. Despite facing immense challenges, he never gave up and taught us the age-old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” At the age of six in 1952, Paul contracted polio, which left him paralyzed in most of his body, except for his head, neck, and mouth. He was bound to spend his life in an iron lung, but he refused to let that define him.


Episode 1 of Convos with Paul! We will be responding to comments and questions about Paul’s life, his polio, and life in an iron lung! Please be positive 😊 #PaulAlexander #poliopaul #ironlung #conversationswithpaul

♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono – moshimo sound design

In 1954, Paul met Mrs. Sullivan, a physical therapist, who introduced him to glossopharyngeal breathing, also known as “frog breathing.” This technique allowed him to spend more time outside the iron lung and breathe independently. With dedicated self-teaching, Paul became one of the few homeschooled students in the Dallas Independent School District.

Despite his physical limitations, Paul accomplished remarkable feats. In 1967, at the age of 21, he graduated from W.W. Samuell High, becoming the first student to graduate without attending a single class in person. Not only that, but he also ranked second in his class academically. Paul’s impressive achievements earned him a scholarship at Southern Methodist University, and later he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1978. Determined to excel further, he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1984.

Paul Alexander’s accomplishments go beyond his academic pursuits. He holds a Guinness World Record for spending 70 years in an iron lung, which is a testament to his incredible resilience. After completing law school, Paul taught court stenographers legal terminology for two years. In 1986, he passed the bar exam and started his career as a lawyer. Paul practiced law for 30 years, running his own successful law firm and representing clients in courtrooms. Alongside his legal profession, he also wrote a book titled “Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung,” describing his extraordinary journey with polio.

In 2024, at the age of 78, Paul joined the world of TikTok with the help of a social media manager. He shared videos titled “Conversations with Paul” in which he talked about his life in an iron lung. Despite his growing popularity on the platform, Paul always made an effort to respond to his followers’ questions and engage with them personally.

Tragically, Paul contracted COVID-19 and passed away on March 11, 2024. Though we mourn the loss of this incredible individual, we can honor his memory by celebrating his numerous achievements. In addition to being a lawyer and author, Paul was also an artist, using his mouth to create beautiful drawings. His legacy is far greater than life itself, as he never allowed anything to hinder his spirit, even when confined to the limitations of an iron lung. Rest in Peace, Paul Alexander, and thank you for the inspiration you’ve given us all.