Man who lived inside iron lung for 70 years inspired millions by becoming a lawyer

  • At six years old, Paul Alexander contracted polio which left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own
  • For the past 70 years, he’s been confined to an iron lung which helps him breathe
  • Despite being confined to the iron lung, he not only finished high school, but also completed two degrees in law and practiced law for 30 years in a special wheelchair

Published on Feb 01, 2024 at 4:05 PM (UTC+4)
by Adam Gray

Last updated on Feb 01, 2024 at 9:47 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Alessandro Renesis

This is Paul Richard Alexander, and he’s lived inside an iron lung for 70 years.

But despite being so dependent on the device, Paul has inspired millions on social media and has even achieved two law degrees.

His story is nothing short of remarkable.

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At the age of six, Paul had gone out to play with his elder brother but returned with a fever, body ache, and fatigue.

What Paul and his family didn’t know was that there was an epidemic of polio in the region in 1952.

Sadly for six-year-old Paul, he’d contracted the infectious disease, which is caused by a virus that can spread from person to person and can lead to paralysis.

Something Elon Musk is hoping to combat with the Neuralink brain chip, which was recently implanted into the first person.

Paul was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with polio.

He spent his time in hospital on a gurney, looking at other kids who were also infected, some of whom sadly didn’t make it.

Thankfully Paul managed to survive, but the infection left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own.

So physicians gave him life-saving equipment in the form of an iron lung that helped him to breathe.

The cylindrical device, which covers the whole body apart from the head, applies negative pressure to the chest and abdomen to help create the action of breathing.

Whilst cumbersome, the iron lung has kept Paul alive for 70 years now, and it hasn’t stopped him from living his life to the full.


Paul took five years writing “Three Minutes For A Dog” by typing into a computer using a pencil placed in his mouth! The link to his book can be found below on Amazon! #conversationswithpaul #ironlung #poliopaul #PaulAlexander

♬ 《钢琴与弦乐》雨后香气 – 没有发光的金

The iron lung is often associated with decompression sickness (the bends), often as a result of scuba diving incidents)

However, this man who lived underwater for 100 days had a glow up that he described as a ‘life glitch’ transformation.

Paul’s adversity has encouraged him to not only finish high school, but complete two law degrees, and practice law for 30 years in a special wheelchair.

Not only that, but Paul has also written a book about his life experiences that took five years to write and has been read by people across the world.

In another story of overcoming adversity with smarts, this mom was forced to use her electric car to power her son’s dialysis machine during a power cut.

Changing with the times, Paul is also on a number of social media platforms, using them to create awareness of polio so that in the future, children do not have to live their lives like he did.

Once a major disease, polio has now been eradicated in more than 100 countries thanks to extensive vaccination programs.

Paul requires round-the-clock care from caretakers and there’s an upkeep for the iron lung that helps him breathe.

Those interested in supporting Paul can do so by donating via his GoFundMe page.

# Tags - Lifestyle, Science


Adam Gray

Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.