Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander, Iconic ‘Man in the Iron Lung,’ Passes Away at 78 After 70 Years in Tank

In a life that defied all odds, Paul Alexander, widely known as the “Man in the Iron Lung,” breathed his last on March 11, 2024, at 78. Paul Alexander had spent an incredible 70 years living inside an iron lung, a metal cylinder that helped him breathe after being paralyzed by polio as a child.

Paul Alexander’s Battle with Polio

Alexander’s life took a dramatic turn in the summer of 1952 when he was just six. He contracted polio, a viral disease that left him paralyzed from the neck down. In a desperate attempt to save his life, doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy to suction the congestion from his lungs.

When Alexander regained consciousness, he found himself encased in an iron lung, a device that uses air pressure to help patients breathe when their chest muscles are paralyzed. This metal cylinder would become his home for the next seven decades.

Alexander’s Remarkable Journey

Despite the challenges posed by his condition, Paul Alexander refused to let his circumstances define him. With unwavering determination, he pursued an education, earning a high school diploma at the age of 21 with the help of a tutor.

But his ambitions didn’t stop there. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in 1978 and a law degree in 1984, eventually working as a lawyer for decades.

Paul Alexander’s Life in the Iron Lung

Living inside the iron lung was no easy feat for him. He learned to breathe independently for short periods, allowing him to venture outside the metal cylinder for a few hours. To communicate with others, he used a plastic stick and a pen attached to it, tapping on a keyboard to convey his thoughts.

In 2020, he published his memoir, “Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung,” chronicling his extraordinary life’s journey. The title refers to his first attempts at breathing as a child, for which he was rewarded with a pet dog after three minutes of success.

Paul Alexander’s Inspirational Legacy

Paul Alexander inspired countless individuals with his resilience and positive attitude throughout his life. His story traveled far and wide, positively influencing people around the world.

Christopher Ulmer, the organizer of a GoFundMe campaign for Paul Alexander, shared the news of his passing, saying, “Paul Alexander, ‘The Man in the Iron Lung’, passed away yesterday. After surviving polio as a child, he lived over 70 years inside of an iron lung. In this time, Paul Alexander went to college, became a lawyer, and a published author. His story traveled wide and far, positively influencing people around the world. Paul Alexander was an incredible role model that will continue to be remembered.”

Paul Alexander’s Final Years

In his later years, Alexander’s health deteriorated, and he had to spend more time inside the iron lung. He developed a persistent respiratory infection and experienced pain in his legs whenever he moved.

Despite these challenges, he remained resilient and grateful for the support he received from those around him. His brother, Philip, expressed gratitude for the donations to his GoFundMe campaign, stating, “It allowed him to live his last few years stress-free. It will also pay for his funeral during this difficult time.”

Paul Alexander’s Lasting Impact

As the world mourns Paul Alexander’s death, his legacy lives on as a testament to the indomitable human spirit. His determination to live life to the fullest, despite the extraordinary challenges he faced, inspires people everywhere.

In bidding farewell to Paul , Christopher Ulmer said, “Paul Alexander, you will be missed but always remembered. Thanks for sharing your story with us.”

Paul Alexander’s Unforgettable Life

His life was indeed one of a kind, an extraordinary journey that defied all odds. From waking up in an iron lung as a child to becoming a lawyer and published author, his story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

As the world mourns his passing, Paul Alexander’s legacy will continue to inspire generations, reminding us that the human spirit can triumph even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.


The life of Paul , the “Man in the Iron Lung,” was remarkable, filled with courage, determination, and an unwavering spirit. His passing at 78 marks the end of an era, but his inspiring story will continue to resonate with people worldwide. Paul Alexander’s journey is a powerful reminder that perseverance and a positive attitude can overcome even the most significant challenges.

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