Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

A man who lived in an iron lung for more than 70 years revealed how he was able to do everyday things.

Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 when he was just six years old, and after being rushed to hospital he was able to survive with an iron lung.

Paul relied on the 7ft ventilator to keep him alive, which it did until he passed away on Monday (March 11) aged 78.

During that time, Paul lived most of his life within the confines of the ventilator, with a few exceptions.

Before his death, Paul was the last known person to be living in an iron lung.

What is an iron lung?

Iron lungs are a form of ventilator which encases the body and varied air pressure inside to stimulate breathing when the body’s muscles are unable to do so by themselves.

The devices were commonly used in the treatment of polio, which can cause a form of paralysis.

How did Paul Alexander go to the toilet in an iron lung?

Living in the device presented Paul with a lot of challenges in carrying out everyday activities, such as going to the toilet.

In a video posted on social media with his carer Patricia, the pair revealed how this happens after viewers asked.

Paul Alexander was just six years old when he contracted polio. Credis: Dallas Morning News/Youtube
Paul Alexander was just six years old when he contracted polio. Credis: Dallas Morning News/Youtube

In the video, Paul said: “I wanted Patricia to come talk to you because she’s the one who does what I say: ‘Wanna go to the bathroom, Paul?’

“Yeah, I think I might. So when that happens what do you do?”

Patricia explained what happens, saying: “I have to unlock the iron lung that he uses and he uses a urinal and a bed pan when needed. Just like he would be if he was in the hospital but he is at his home, where he belongs.”

She added: “I take a lot of pride in what I do for Paul because he’s had so many that didn’t take care of him so good. He’s just an awesome man that deserves the best and I try my best to be the best. I haven’t had any complaints yet.”

Paul interjected, saying: “And you won’t.”

Paul Alexander lived in an iron lung for 70 years. Credit: Paul Alexander
Paul Alexander lived in an iron lung for 70 years. Credit: Paul Alexander

Paul didn’t let an iron lung hold him back

Despite being stuck in the ventilator, Paul didn’t let this get in the way of his life goals.

This included writing a book, which he did by holding a pencil in his mouth.

He also managed to learn a new technique to help him breath. This would allow him to be outside the iron lung for short periods.

After a year of practice, he managed to go for three minutes without the ventilator.

This allowed him to take short spells outside and walk to the garden and the porch.

In 2020 he published his autobiography Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung.

By Admin