March 4, 2024

Columbus Post

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DALLAS: Paul Alexander has been living in an iron lung for 70 years

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DallasPaul was trapped in an iron lung for over 70 years

In 1952, Paul Alexander contracted polio. Even today he prefers to live in an iron lung. But he has achieved things that he never thought possible.

Justin Arbor
Van
  • Paul Alexander has lived in an iron lung for over 70 years.

  • He was diagnosed with polio at the age of six.

  • Now the 77-year-old has graduated as a lawyer and inspires countless people on social media.

On a hot summer day in July 1952, six-year-old Paul Alexander's life from Dallas, Texas, took a dramatic turn: He wasn't feeling well—his neck was injured and he had a bad headache.

After the first day in bed with a fever, Paul was examined by his family doctor. He advised his parents not to take him to the hospital. It is clear that he has polio, but there are more patients out there now.

“It was the worst experience”

Five days after the first symptoms of the disease appeared, the boy's condition continued to deteriorate. He could no longer hold colored pencils and had difficulty speaking, swallowing or coughing.

Doctors at the hospital said there was nothing more they could do for him. He will die. But another doctor stood up for him and operated on him. Three days later he woke up in an iron lung. The boy kept asking the nurses that he was going to die or that he “shouldn't be alive”.

This is the worst experience you can imagine. These are huge hospital wards, huge rooms with dozens of iron lungs, all full of children. At first I couldn't see them. I didn't know where I was or what was happening because I couldn't move. I was playing at home and all of a sudden I was paralyzed,” Paul Riff told the reporter.

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His parents encouraged him to learn to breathe on his own again. In return, they will fulfill a long-held wish: Paul really wanted a puppy. «It was very difficult in the beginning. After a year of work, we've developed the ability to be outside for three minutes.” He got his puppy.

Time has increased over the years. He can now manage a whole day.

How he feels today

“My whole life has been a combination of one event, one adventure, one miracle, whatever you want to call it,” he continues. He learned to cough and breathe differently. He was then educated at home.

He also graduated as a lawyer. “It was the hardest thing I ever did. “I did it and started working,” he says today. Then he opened a small office and had clients. They were surprised, often saying: “What are you doing? Are you lying on a tanning bed or what? ” “No not really.”

At 77, Paul is still in an iron lung. Only one other person in America still has one. A few days ago he opened his own Instagram account and talked about his life. He inspires and motivates countless people. When asked why he prefers an iron lung, despite decades of alternative options available, Paul replies: “I breathe better in an iron lung. It is the most natural breath that no other device can do. ” He is very restrictive of alternative products.