Paul Alexander, Man With Polio Forced Into Iron Lung In 1952, Passes Away At 78 – One America News Network

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OAN’s Brooke Mallory
5:56 PM – Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Paul Alexander was only six years old in 1952 when he contracted polio. The illness took away the ability to use his body in a matter of days. However, he persevered despite the sickness, living over 70 years with an iron lung.


Alexander encouraged others to live life to the fullest. In addition to painting, he wrote a book and practiced law for many years.

“Paul took a lot of pride in being a positive role model for others,” said his friend Christopher Ulmer, who organized a GoFundMe page for Alexander in 2022. “More than anything, I believe he would want others to know they are capable of great things.”

According to a notice from his hometown of Dallas, Texas’ Grove Hill Funeral Home & Memorial Park, Alexander passed away on Monday at the age of 78.

Ulmer says that he first got to know Alexander when he took part in an interview with him and that they had kept in contact for a number of years after. Ulmer also said that after certain people broke his trust and left Alexander in need of a better living situation, he started a fundraising drive for him. More than $140,000 was donated in response.

“It allowed him to live his last few years stress-free,” Alexander’s brother, Philip, said in a statement. “It will also pay for his funeral during this difficult time. It is absolutely incredible to read all the comments and know that so many people were inspired by Paul. I am just so grateful.”

Alexander became ill with polio at the worst of the pandemic in the United States, when hospital wards were filled with children sleeping in rows upon rows inside iron lungs, which are seven feet long cylinders that suck air into the lungs of their wearers using bellows and negative pressure.

Alexander’s condition developed rapidly, shutting down his developing body in a few short days. After receiving a last-minute tracheotomy that saved his life, he proceeded to push the boundaries of his medical condition. He was able to make art and turn pages in books while holding a rod in his mouth. He completed his education in high school, college, and law school. Later in life, he typed his memoirs using a rod and a keyboard.

“My parents taught me to use my intelligence and my energy to be productive,” Alexander said. “I’ve never thought of myself as a cripple. That’s the word I choose to use because I think it covers the ground in most people’s perceptions.”

“I’m crippled in most people’s minds, except mine,” he added. “I’m Paul Alexander, human being.”

In the end, Guinness World Records acknowledged him as the longest-living iron lung patient.

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Brooke Mallory
Author: Brooke Mallory

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