‘Iron Lung’ man dies at 78


A 78-year-old man who spent most of his life in an iron lung has passed away.

Paul Alexander of Dallas, Texas, contracted polio at age six, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was dependent on an iron lung to breathe.

Although Alexander was largely confined to the submarine-like cylinder, he excelled in his studies, obtained a law degree, worked in the legal field and wrote a book.

Philip Alexander announced the death of his brother. “It was an honor to be a part of someone’s life that was as admired as his.”

According to reports, Alexander was rushed to a hospital after apparently contracting Covid-19.

Iron lungs, invented in the 1920s, are sealed cylinders equipped with pumps. Increasing and decreasing the pressure in the cylinder causes the patient’s lungs to expand and contract.

Its use fell away after the invention of the polio vaccine by Jonas Salk, which became widely available in 1955 and eventually consigned the paralyzing disease to history.

Alexander holds the official Guinness world record for the person who lived the longest in an iron lung.

According to his Guinness record, he was able to leave the iron lung for long periods later in life and only return to sleep at night.

75-year-old Martha Lillard from Shawnee, Oklahoma, is believed to be the last surviving person in an iron lung.