Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
April 10, 2024 ·  3 min read

Remembering Paul Alexander, One Of The Last Polio Survivors Who Lived In An Iron Lung

Paul Alexander was known by many names, such as “Polio Man” and “The Man in the Iron Lung.” He’s one of the most inspiring people in the world to us at InspireMore. I love how this great example of a person lives by the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When Paul was six years old, he got polio in 1952. That was the first bad thing that happened in his life. Paul was paralyzed all over except for his head, neck, and mouth because of the sickness. Even though Paul knew he would spend the rest of his life in an iron lung, he didn’t give up.

In 1954, Paul met Mrs. Sullivan, who worked as a physical therapist. Paul learned glossopharyngeal breathing (GPB) on his own with her help. This way of breathing, which is also known as “frog breathing,” let Paul breathe on his own for longer periods of time outside of the iron lung. Paul was one of the few kids in the Dallas Independent School District who was homeschooled.

Paul graduated from W.W. Samuell High School in 1967 when he was 21 years old. It was the first time a student had graduated without going to class. He did second best in school out of all the kids in his class! Paul wasn’t done making lemonade yet, though. Because of how well he did in school, Southern Methodist University gave him a grant. After moving to Austin to attend the University of Texas, he got his bachelor’s degree there in 1978. By 1984, he had gotten his J.D.


Episode 1 of Convos with Paul! We will be responding to comments and questions about Paul’s life, his polio, and life in an iron lung! Please be positive 😊 #PaulAlexander #poliopaul #ironlung #conversationswithpaul

♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono – moshimo sound design

A Generation Was Inspired by Paul Alexander

Paul’s record of 70 years in an iron lung is still the best in the world. Many of us would love the attention that comes with having a Guinness World Record, but Paul already has a lot of other things going for him. Paul got a job as a teacher at an Austin trade school after taking law school. Before he passed the bar exam in 1986, he taught court stenographers legal terms for two years.

Paul Alexander was a lawyer for thirty years. He ran his own law firm and went to court for his customers. Another book he wrote was called Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung.” It was about his time with polio. After being 78 for a long time, Paul joined TikTok with the help of a social media manager. Putting up movies called “Conversations with Paul” about living in an iron lung was what he did. Paul tried his best to answer his fans’ questions, unlike bigger TikTok accounts.

Lincoln, Paul’s social media manager, shared an update at the end of February. Paul got COVID-19 and was having a hard time with it. Paul died on March 11, 2024, but his work will continue. The GoFundMe page for Paul is still open, and money is still being raised to pay for his funeral and other costs related to his death.

We are sad about his death, but we can remember his life as a true hero by celebrating what he did. Paul was an artist as well as a lawyer and an author. He would draw with his mouth and make beautiful pictures. Paul’s impact is bigger than life itself, even though he is finally done making lemonade. Even though he was stuck in an iron lung, he never let anything stop him. Paul Alexander, may you rest in peace. Thank you for all the lemonade.

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