A man known as “iron lung man” who suffered from polio since was a child has died in the United States at the age of 78. Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 when he was six years old, leaving him almost completely paralyzed.

Because of his illness, he could not breathe on his own, and the doctors put him in an iron jar, where he spent the rest of his life. Later, he received a law degree, practiced law, and also published memoirs. His brother Philip Alexander said he remembered Paul as a “friendly, cheerful person with a big smile” who instantly made people happy.

Phillip said he was amazed at how independent his brother was, who because of his illness was unable to do many basic daily tasks, such as feeding himself. But due to polio, his body could no longer breathe on its own. He was then placed in what is called an iron lung – a metal container that covers the body up to the neck.

An artificial lung allowed him to breathe. Later, Paul Alexander learned to breathe on his own and sometimes stopped using the bottle for a short time. Many people who recovered from polio and were placed in a jar’s lung did not live long. But he lived for several more decades, after the invention of the polio vaccine in the 1950s nearly eradicated the disease from developed countries.

March 14, 2024

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