Paul Alexander, a 76 years old, has lived a life that is exceptional.
He is among the last people in the world to still be using the 1928-era respirator and has utilized an iron lung for the majority of his existence.
Paul has led an extremely meaningful life, Throughout his unusual situations and was never settled with anything less.
“I won’t allow anyone to place restrictions on my life. I won’t do that. My life is amazing.”
When Paul was just six years old, he ran inside his family’s house in a Dallas, Texas, suburb and told his mother he was not doing well. Since his birth in 1946, Paul has consistently been a healthy, contented, and active child, but it was now clear that something was wrong.
Paul recalls his mom stating, “Oh my God, not my child.”
Following the doctor’s advice, he rested in bed for the next few days, but it was obvious the child still had polio and was not getting better. He lost his ability to take breaths, swallowing, and hold objects in his hands just over a week after initially experiencing symptoms of sickness.
He got involved in many childrens who had similar symptoms when his parents finally arrived at the hospital.
More than 15,000 people died from the infection before polio vaccines were available. Polio is a very deadly infection that can spread even when a person is afflicted and does not exhibit any symptoms.
The symptoms of polio include fatigue, a fever, stiffness, muscle pain, and vomiting. In rarer cases, polio can potentially cause paralysis and death.
Paul was examined by a doctor who pronounced him dead, but another doctor gave him the second opportunity.
Paul was then placed into an iron lung after the second doctor finished the emergency tracheotomy.
When he finally recovered three days later, he was surrounded by countless rows of children who had also been given iron lungs.
“I had no idea what had occurred. I imagined all kinds of things, like I had passed away. I kept thinking, “Is this what death is like?” Is that a casket? Or have I ended up somewhere bad?”The Texas native explained to Carol Off, host of As It Happens, in 2017.
It was much more terrifying because Paul were unable to communicate because of his tracheotomy.
“I attempted to move, but I was unable to do so. not a single finger. I attempted to feel something to try to figure it out, but I did not become successful. Therefore, it was quite odd.”
The invention, which was made in the late 1920s, was the first to ventilate a human. From the neck down, the apparatus is hermetically sealed, creating a negative pressure in the chamber that draws air into the patient’s lungs. Early on, it was frequently referred to as the “Drinker respirator”. The patient exhales when the air is forced out of the lungs once more if it results in overpressure.
It took me 18 months to fully recover from the initial illness inside the metal canister. Also, he wasn’t by himself. Looking at the statistics, 1952, the year Paul got sick, is a rather bleak year. Over 58,000 people, largely youngsters, spread the virus in the United States that year. Sadly, 3,145 of them perished.
“Rows and rows of iron lungs as far as the eye can see Full of kids,” he declared.
Some individuals may have lost interest in living, but Paul found strength in it. He would hear doctors passing by say, “He mustn’t be alive,” and he was determined to disprove them.
Exactly that is what he also did! He quickly became aware that his life had drastically changed from what it had been after leaving the hospital in 1954.
In a video interview in 2021, he admitted, “People didn’t like me very much back then.” “I got the impression that they were uneasy around me.”
But things started to change in his life gradually with Mrs. Sullivan’s help, a therapist who visited him twice a week. His therapist made an arrangement with him that if he could “frog-breathe” for three minutes without the iron lung, a technique that involves retaining air in your mouth by flattening your tongue and opening your neck, she would buy him a puppy.
After a year of arduous effort, Paul was able to spend a growing amount of time outside the iron lung.
He was the first person to graduate with honors from a Dallas high school at age 21 without ever setting foot on campus. He finally decided to pursue college after being turned down on numerous occasions, and Southern Methodist University accepted him.
He recalled, “They said I had grown disabled and couldn’t get the vaccination.” “After two years of my pestering them, they agreed to two things: first, that a fraternity would be in charge of me; and second, that I receive the polio vaccine.”
He continued his schooling at the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a law education after receiving his degree from Southern Methodist University. After succeeding on the bar exam, he began practicing law in the Dallas–Fort Worth area.
“I was also pretty darn excellent at it!”
Even after a 30 year career in the courtroom, he kept himself busy by writing a book that he wrote by himself using a pen attached to a stick.
According to a Gizmodo, Paul is one of the last people left living within the almost extinct machine. The 76 years old is always confined to his old iron lung and has spent a significant amount of his life in a can.
“I’ve taken it with me on trips and loaded it onto trucks. It accompanied me to college, where I resided in a dorm. Everyone was terrified by that.” he claimed.
Paul’s particular kind of iron lung hasn’t been produced in fifty years because modern ventilators are so much more sophisticated and high-tech.
Despite the availability of new technology, the polio survivor prefers his metal chamber. But seven years ago, the metal lung came perilously near to failing, forcing the Dallas attorney to publish a desperate YouTube message. Fortunately, there are still lots of abandoned devices scattered across the country, which means that replacement parts are widely accessible. Dedicated users of outdated technologies have also helped Paul, to his advantage.
“Many folks who had polio are now deceased. How was the iron lung handled? They have been located in barns. They were located in garages. They were discovered in salvage yards. Not much, but sufficient to scavenge for parts,” he claims.
Paul is presently working on his second book; he has lived longer than his parents and older brother put together. Paul claimed that the reason he was able to live such a rich life was because he “never gave up.”
He added, “I wanted to achieve the things I was told I couldn’t achieve and to dream the dreams I dreamed.”
In the US, polio has been all but eliminated since 1979. However, rare polio outbreaks brought on by vaccination continue to be concerning.
Paul is really motivational. I hope that the brave and motivational account of how he overcame adversity to create his life will encourage everyone who reads this.
His perseverance shows that the only limitations are those we place on ourselves. Please share his story with your loved ones to inspire others.