Paul Alexander’s Devastating ‘Cause Of Death’ After Spending 70 Years In Iron Lung

Paul Alexander, the man who lived in an iron lung for more than 70 years, has had his 'cause of death' confirmed.
Credit: GoFundMe & @ironlungman/TikTok

Paul Alexander, the man who lived inside an iron lung for over 70 years, has had his ’cause of death’ confirmed.

Alexander, who contracted polio at the age of six, lived more than seven decades in the iron lung that saved his life.

In spite of spending the majority of his life confined, Alexander –  also known as Polio Paul – did not allow this to hold him back, becoming an inspiration to thousands.

Sadly, it has been confirmed that the 78-year-old has died.

And now his reported cause of death has been disclosed.

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Alexander contracted polio as a six-year-old child in his native Texas and was treated in an iron lung.

Per the Science Museum, the machine ‘was a huge metal box attached to bellows in which the patient was encased. The continuous suction from the bellows kept the patient breathing’.

‘It soon became a feature of the polio wards of the mid-1900s. By 1939, around 1,000 iron lungs were in use in the USA,” the publication adds.

The CDC writes that ‘polio, 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’.

Nowadays, polio is almost entirely eradicated thanks to the polio vaccine.

Iron Lung
Nurses attend to a room full of polio patients in iron lung respirators. Credit: Alamy

Alexander, aged 21, became the first person to graduate from a high school in Dallas without ever attending class in person.

He would go on to law school, becoming a trial lawyer who appeared in court in a custom-made wheelchair that allowed him to stand upright.

Alexander published his memoir titled ‘Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung’, which he wrote using a pen clutched in his mouth.

He also worked in disability advocacy and at one point, became engaged to a woman named Claire who he met at university.

Following the devastating news that Alexander has passed away, many have taken to social media and paid tribute.

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One tribute reads: “I remember reading his story a few years back he actually achieved some pretty impressive stuff! RIP what a strong character. University education, successful lawyer. Wrote a book and painting was his hobby.”

“He proved to the world that you can do miracles no matter what your situation is,” another writes.

A third pens: “He had such amazing spirit. I remember watching his mini-documentary. I was like look how happy and optimistic he is regardless of his health situation. Rest easy sir. One tough cookie for sure.”

On a GoFundMe page for Alexander, Christopher Ulmer pens: “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. During 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 Alexander
Paul Alexander’s ’cause of death’ has been confirmed. Credit: SBSK via YouTube

“Paul was an incredible role model that will continue to be remembered.

“I met and interviewed Paul in 2022. Our community raised a large amount of money for him. I just got off the phone with Philip, Paul’s brother, who wants to communicate the following message.

“I am so grateful to everybody who donated to my brother’s fundraiser. It allowed him to live his last few years stress-free. It will also pay for his funeral during this difficult time. It is absolutely incredible to read all the comments and know that so many people were inspired by Paul. I am just so grateful.

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

Alexander’s ’cause of death’ has now been confirmed by his social media manager, Lincoln.

He posted on Alexander’s TikTok: “I know there have been a lot of questions and comments about where have the videos been, is Paul OK?

“Last week he was unfortunately rushed to the emergency room in the hospital, he tested positive for Covid, which is really, really dangerous for somebody with his condition.

Paul Alexander
Paul Alexander lived in an iron lung for more than 70 years. Credit: The Dallas Morning News via YouTube

“Fortunately they have an iron lung at the hospital just for him, and he was able to come home this weekend.

“But unfortunately he’s still kind of weak, he’s still got some confusion going around, he’s still struggling to eat and hydrate.”

Alexander had previously spoken of his fears about Covid-19 to The Guardian.

“It’s exactly the way it was, it’s almost freaky to me,” he said of the parallels between polio and Covid-19. “It scares me.”

He added: “Well – I don’t sit around and worry about it. I’m dying a lot. It doesn’t make any difference.”

Alexander’s brother, Philip, confirmed he was ‘probably the most vulnerable you can get’ to Covid.

“He’s staying positive, but we’ve also had conversations that this is probably going to do it. It’s very likely,” he commented.

It has been reported by The Sun that a Covid-19 infection did, in fact, claim Alexander’s life.

Rest in peace.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.