Paul Alexander, polio survivor in iron lung for over 70 years, dies at 78 after Covid diagnosis

Paul Alexander, the man who lived inside an iron lung for over 70 years after contracting polio, died Monday after being hospitalized for Covid last month, his friends and family said. He was 78.

Alexander’s death was announced on a GoFundMe set up to help him with finances.

“I am so gratitude to everybody who donated to my brother’s fundraiser,” Philip Alexander said on the GoFundMe. “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.”

“His story traveled wide and far, positively influencing people around the world. Paul was an incredible role model that will continue to be remembered,” GoFundMe organizer Christopher Ulmer wrote on Tuesday.

The cause of his death was not mentioned. Alexander, who lived in Dallas, Texas, was rushed to the hospital in late February after testing positive for Covid, according to his social media manager. He was released from the hospital but was struggling to eat and drink.

The "Iron Lung E 52" on display
The “Iron Lung E 52” on display in the Medical History Museum (BMM) of the Charité in Berlin on June 12, 2023.Soeren Stache / dpa / picture alliance via Getty Images file

Alexander was declared the longest surviving iron lung patient last March by the Guinness World Records. He contracted polio during an epidemic of the debilitating disease in the 1950s as a child living in Texas.

Despite his condition, Alexander graduated from college with a law degree and ran his own legal practice. He also became a published author with the book “Three Minutes for a Dog,” detailing his life.

In recent months, Alexander started a TikTok account calling himself “Polio Paul,” where he talked about his accomplishments and answered questions about life in an iron lung. The account had over 300,000 followers at the time of his death.

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