Man Who Lived in an Iron Lung Since 1953 Dies After Covid Diagnosis

Man Who Lived in an Iron Lung Since 1953 Dies After Covid Diagnosis

Paul Alexander, a Dallas man who’s lived in an iron lung since contracting polio at the age of six, has died at 78, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a friend. An official cause of death was not announced, but Alexander’s TikTok page noted in late February that he’d been hospitalized with Covid-19.

“Paul Alexander, ‘The Man in the Iron Lung’, passed away yesterday,” Alexander’s GoFundMe wrote on Tuesday. “After surviving polio as a child, he lived over 70 years inside of an iron lung. In this time Paul went to college, became a lawyer, and a published author. His story traveled wide and far, positively influencing people around the world. Paul was an incredible role model that will continue to be remembered.”

Gizmodo profiled Alexander in 2017, looking at the difficulties he faced spending so many decades in an iron lung while also exploring the myriad ways he was able to accomplish his goals, like graduating from law school at the University of Texas-Austin and writing his book Three Minutes For a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung.

“Once you live in an iron lung forever, it seems like, it becomes such a part of your mentality. Like if somebody touches the iron lung—touches it—I can feel that. I can feel the vibration go through the iron lung,” Alexander told Gizmodo at the time.

A friend of Alexander set up a GoFundMe page in 2022 after he’d been “taken advantage of by people who were supposed to care for his best interests.” Alexander’s high health care costs, combined with the lost money, forced him to move into a one-bedroom apartment without a window, according to the GoFundMe. The crowdfunding page raised over $US140,000 while he was still alive, but has been shut down in the wake of his death. The remaining money will help pay for funeral costs, according to his brother.

“I’ve got to tell you that it probably changed my whole life,” Alexander said of the GoFundMe donations in a video from November 2022. “You guys are incredible because the things you said to me touched my heart tremendously. I want you to know I appreciate what you’ve done, but I love you even more.”


A Thank You From Paul to the SBSK Community

Alexander had a TikTok page with the handle @ironlungman where he would give updates on what was happening in his world to over 300,000 followers. Alexander would field questions from TikTok users on a range of topics, including how he became a lawyer.

There were scammers who apparently were tried to impersonate Alexander, according to a TikTok video he posted in early February, but through it all, he was an eternal optimist often talking about his faith in God and the wonderful people who helped him through online donations.

“I want to tell you that God has recognized the problems… we care, all of my life and even though I’ve had some times where I struggle to survive, even my life threatened, God has always been there and that is significant because without that I wouldn’t be here,” Alexander said in 2022.

“Now God’s blessed me with some very caring, very loving and very competent people. I’m most thankful for what he’s done and I’m gonna do my best to move on and move to my next challenge in life and see what I can do. But thank you for your comments. And thank you for being there.”

Paul Alexander as a Young Man

Paul Alexander when he was younger and less reliant on the iron lung than he is today.

Paul Writing His Book

Paul Alexander writes his memoir using a pen attached to a stick.

Scammers Try to Impersonate Paul Alexander


Replying to @Mike Martinez This is the only account for Paul Alexander! Please don’t fall victim to any scams from others! All official donation links in bio ❤️#conversationswithpaul #ironlung #poliopaul #PaulAlexander #QandA

♬ original sound – Paul “Polio Paul” Alexander


Paul Tells His Story


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


Paul Expresses His Gratitude for GoFundMe Donations


So grateful for all of the contributions I have recieved! We have blown past our initial goal! If you would like to join in donating the gofundme link is in my bio! #conversationswithpaul #ironlung #poliopaul #PaulAlexander

♬ Beautiful and emotional instrumental music(1044200) – MaxRecStudio


Paul Talks About Writing His Book


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


Haynes Memorial Hospital in Boston in 1955

This is a scene in the emergency polio ward at Haynes Memorial Hospital in Boston, MA., on Aug. 16, 1955. The city’s polio epidemic hit a high of 480 cases. The critical patients are lined up close together in iron lung respirators so that a team of doctors and nurses can give fast emergency treatment as needed.

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