Paul Alexander, who is 76 years old, has led a unique life. He has had an iron lung for the bulk of his life, and he is among the few persons in the world who still use the 1928 respirator.

He has had an extraordinarily complete life and has never settled for anything less, despite his extraordinary circumstances.

“I refuse to accept anyone’s constraints on my existence. I won’t do that. I have the most amazing existence.
Paul ran into his family’s suburban Dallas, Texas, house when he was just six years old and told his mother he wasn’t feeling well. Paul had been a typical, lively, and active youngster since his birth in 1946, but it was obvious that something was awry at this point.

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Oh my God, Paul remembered his mother saying, “Oh my God, not my son.”

He spent the next few days in bed recuperating as directed by the doctor, but it was obvious the youngster had polio and was not getting better. He lost his ability to swallow, breathe, and hold anything less than a week after he first felt ill.

When his parents did eventually transport him to the hospital, he was among countless other kids with similar symptoms.

More than 15,000 people contracted polio, which left them paralysed before vaccines were developed. Highly contagious, polio can spread even in the absence of symptoms in an infected individual.

Polio symptoms include vomiting, stiffness, fever, lethargy, and muscle soreness. Polio can potentially result in death and paralysis in less common cases.

being evaluated by one doctor, who declared Paul dead, Paul was given a second opinion by a different doctor, who restored his life.

After Paul underwent emergency tracheotomy surgery, the second doctor fitted him with an iron lung.

Three days later, he finally awoke to find himself in a row of kids who had also been fitted with iron lungs.

“I was unaware of what had transpired. I imagined everything, like though I had passed away. I wondered all the time: Is this what death is like? Is that a coffin? In 2017, the Texas native asked As It Happens anchor Carol Off, “Or have I gone to some undesirable place?”
The fact that Paul, who also had a tracheotomy, was mute added to the horror of the situation.

“I attempted to move, but I was immobile. Not even a digit. I attempted to touch it in an attempt to solve it, but I was never successful. Thus, it was really peculiar.

The device was the first to ventilate a human being when it was created in the late 1920s. The apparatus, which is hermetically sealed from the neck down and provides a negative pressure in the chamber that sucks air into the patient’s lungs, was widely referred to in the early days as the “Drinker respirator.” In the event that it produces overpressure, the patient exhales as air is driven out of their lungs once more.

recovered from the first infection inside the metal canister for eighteen months. He wasn’t alone, either. By all accounts, 1952—the year Paul contracted the virus—was a really bad year.

In 1952, the virus infected over 58,000 Americans, most of them being children. 3,145 of them sadly passed away.

Rows upon rows of iron lungs, as far as the eye can see. Complete with kids,” he remarked, as reported by The Guardian.

Paul’s will was strengthened even though some people could have given up on life.

Every time a doctor passed by him, he would hear comments like “He should not be alive” or “He’s going to die today,” and he wanted to disprove them.
And he really did just that!
After being released from the hospital in 1954, he soon discovered that his life had changed significantly.

“I wasn’t very popular back then,” he remarked in a 2021 video interview. “I sensed that they were uneasy with me.”

But little by bit, his life started to get better with the assistance of a therapist named Mrs. Sullivan, who came to see him twice a week. His therapist struck a deal with him: she would buy him a puppy if he could “frog-breathe,” a manoeuvre that involves flattening your tongue and expanding your throat to trap air in your mouth for three minutes without using an iron lung.

After a year of hard labour, Paul was able to spend an increasing amount of time outside of the iron lung.

He was the first person to graduate with honours from a Dallas high school at the age of 21 without ever having to attend classes in person. After a number of rejections, he finally focused on going to college and got accepted to Southern Methodist University.

He recounted, “They said I didn’t have the vaccination and I was too crippled.” “They welcomed me on two conditions after I tormented them for two years. First, that I receive the polio vaccine; second, that I would be under the care of a fraternity.

After earning his degree from Southern Methodist University, he enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin’s law school. After passing the bar, he practiced law in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

“And I wasn’t too bad at it either!”
He kept himself occupied by writing a book, which he typed by hand with a pen on a stick, even after a thirty-year career in the courts.

Paul is reportedly one of the last persons living in the almost antiquated contraption, according to a Gizmodo article. The 76-year-old has lived much of his life in a can and is permanently confined to his ancient iron lung.

I’ve travelled with it; I packed it in a truck and brought it along. I lived in a dorm while attending college with it. Everyone was terrified by that, he claimed.

Paul’s sort of iron lung hasn’t been produced in the past 50 years due to the advancement and sophistication of modern ventilators.

Notwithstanding the availability of new technology, the polio survivor still favours his metal chamber. But seven years ago, the Dallas lawyer had to proclaim on YouTube in a desperate attempt to save his metal lung. Fortunately, there are still a lot of abandoned machines in the nation, meaning that spare parts are easily found. Paul has also received assistance from hobbyists who enjoy working with antiquated technologies.

The outfit is perfect! Join us for World Polio Day this Friday at 11:30 at Maggiano’s Northpark. Paul, our wonderful speaker…

Many persons who contracted polio have passed away. How was the iron lung handled by them? They’ve been in barns, I think. In garages, I discovered them. Junk shops are where I’ve found them. Just enough, he adds, to scrounge [for] components.

Paul claimed that his ability to lead such a contented life is a result of his having “never given up.”

After World Polio Day, Rotarians are still very much in the air. We can eradicate polio right now if a man with an iron lung, like Paul Alexander, can become a lawyer and practice law. Everything is conceivable!
He declared, “I wanted to realise the dreams I had and to accomplish the things I was told I couldn’t.”
Since 1979, polio has been eradicated in the United States. Nonetheless, certain occurrences of polio that are caused by vaccinations remain concerning.

Without a doubt, Paul inspires. I sincerely hope that everyone who reads this will be inspired by his brave and inspiring story, which he has built despite all difficulties.

His tenacity demonstrates that the only boundaries we have are the ones we choose for ourselves. To encourage others, kindly tell his tale to all of your friends and relatives.

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