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13th Mar 2024

Iron lung man’s brother pays heartbreaking tribute after his death

Joseph Loftus

Man who lived inside iron lung learned new way of breathing

‘He loved wine, good food and women.’

This week, it was announced that Paul Alexander, who achieved fame across the world as the ‘man in the iron lung’, had died at the age of 78.

Alexander had lived inside a 600lbs iron lung for seven decades after polio left him paralysed in 1952, when he was just six-years-old.

The Texas local could only move his head, neck and mouth and almost died before he was placed in the iron lung by doctors.

Iron lungs consist of a sealed chamber fitted with a pump that can raise and lower the air pressure inside.

The raising and lowering of the pressure inside the chamber expands and contracts the patient’s lungs, allowing them to continue breathing even when the muscles of their chest have failed.

After initially surviving the polio diagnosis, Alexander learned how to “frog breathe” with the help of a physical therapist. This involved him gulping air and using his throat muscles to force the air into his lungs.

Over the course of a year, Alexander mastered the technique, which allowed him to leave the iron lung for prolonged periods, according to Guinness World Records.

Eventually, he only needed to use the iron lung when he was sleeping.

Alexander’s death was announced on his GoFundMe page on Tuesday (March 12).

An update on the page confirmed Alexander had passed away on Monday. It read: “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 went to college, became a lawyer, and a published author. His story travelled wide and far, positively influencing people around the world. Paul was an incredible role model that will continue to be remembered.

“Paul, you will be missed but always remembered. Thanks for sharing your story with us.”

Now Paul’s brother has paid a heartbreaking tribute to him writing: “It was an honor to be part of someone’s life who was as admired as he was. He touched and inspired millions of people and that is no exaggeration,’ Philip wrote. 

“To me Paul was just a brother.. same as yours.. loving, giving advice, and scolding when necessary, and also a pain in the a**.. normal brother stuff. He commanded a room.. What a flirt!

“He loved good food, wine, women, long conversations, and laughing. I will miss him so much.”

It was also confirmed that Paul had died from an infection which began with coronavirus.

Rest in peace.

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