A man nicknamed “Polio” has lived inside a 600-pound iron lung for seven decades and reportedly refuses to upgrade to a modern machine.
Paul Alexander, 77, contracted polio in 1952 when he was 6 years old. in March, Announced by the Guinness Book of Records Longest ever iron lung patient.
He has faced many challenges since his birth in 1946.
Just last year, Alexander was “taken advantage of by people who were supposed to have his best interests at heart.” With a fundraising campaign He raised $132,000.
In 1952, it suffered the worst polio outbreak in U.S. history with nearly 58,000 cases reported — most of them children.
Polio (polio) attacks motor neurons in the spinal cord, disrupting the connection between the central nervous system and muscles, eventually making them too weak to allow a person to breathe on their own.
A life-saving vaccine was approved and widely administered to children across the United States in 1955.
In 1979, the United States was declared polio-free, but it was too late for Alexander, who is paralyzed from the neck down.
Shortly after his diagnosis, the Texas man underwent an emergency tracheotomy and was placed in an iron lung to help his body fight the deadly disease.
He has relied on a ventilator from neck to toe to survive ever since.
The Alexander machine was invented in 1928 and hasn’t been made since the late 1960’s as technology advanced.
An iron lung is a sealed capsule that covers everything but the head. It absorbs oxygen through negative pressure, forcing the lungs to expand to allow the patient to breathe. per medscape.
The tool is bulky, cumbersome, and requires the person using it to be held inside.
Despite the invention of more modern machines, Alexander preferred to continue living in his iron lung.
He is said to refuse to have another hole cut in his throat, which was required for the newer devices.
Alexander learned to breathe for a short time with an iron lung.
named “Frog breathing“This technique uses the muscles of the throat to push air through the vocal cords, allowing the patient to swallow oxygen one mouthful at a time, pushing it down the throat and into the lungs.
The Post has reached out to a representative for Alexander for comment.
Beyond learning how to breathe on his own for short periods of time, Alexander continued to pursue his career dreams and inspire others.
He finished high school, graduated from college, earned a law degree, practiced law for decades and wrote his memoirs – all while relying on his iron lung.
“I never gave up, and I still won’t,” Alexander said in an interview. Video interview 2021.
As Alexander gets older, he becomes confined to this contraption and requires round-the-clock care at a facility in Dallas.
“He is struggling to maintain his iron lung, afford healthcare and find housing that meets his needs. “Paul lives in a small one-room apartment with no window,” read the November 2022 GoFundMe appeal, which claims Alexander was the victim of a “robbery.”