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Polio-Infected Man Has Survived Living Inside Iron Lung For 70 Years. Read His Story


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Polio-Infected Man Has Survived Living Inside Iron Lung For 70 Years. Read His Story

Paul Alexander is paralysed from the neck down since 1952 due to Polio.

A man in the US has spent more than seven decades inside a 600-pound iron lung after being struck down by polio at the age of six. Paul Alexander has been paralysed from the neck down since 1952 due to the disease, leaving him unable to breathe by himself. According to New York Post, “Polio Paul” has refused to upgrade to a modern machine. In March, Guinness World Records (GWR) declared the 77-year-old as the longest iron lung patient ever.

Mr Alexander has faced many challenges since he was born in 1946. He endured the worst polio outbreak in US history with almost 58,000 cases – mostly children.

As per the Post report, the disease severely affected Mr Alexander, requiring him to use a machine to breathe.

Polion, or Poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis. It made Mr Alexander too weak to breathe.

A polio vaccine was approved and widely administered to children across the US in 1955. The country was declared polio free in 1979, but it was too late for Mr Alexander by that time.

He underwent an emergency tracheotomy and was placed in an iron lung to help his body combat the deadly disease. He has relied on the neck-to-toe machine to survive since then.

An old report in The Guardian said the machine doesn’t allow him to move, cough or wheeze. His field of view is also limited.

Talking about his other children who underwent the same surgery, he was quoted as saying by outlet, “As far as you can see, rows and rows of iron lungs. Full of children.”

Mr Alexander said he couldn’t make any friends because “every time I’d make a friend, they’d die”.

He recalled doctors talking about him that “he’s going to die”, “he shouldn’t be alive”. It made him furious. It made him want to live.

He explained to The Guardian that by the time newer machines were developed, he had become used to his “old iron horse”.

It employs a technique called “frog breathing,” which uses the throat muscles to force air past the vocal cords, allowing the patient to swallow oxygen one mouthful at a time, pushing it down the throat and into the lungs.

After finishing school, Mr Alexander graduated with a law degree and practiced law for several years. He says his never giving up spirit has brought him this far.


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