Man who’s survived inside iron lung for 72 years shares his incredible story on TikTok

Paul Alexander lives a very unique life compared to most.

Contracting polio at the age of 6 in 1952 during an outbreak in Dallas, Texas, Alexander now spends his days confined within an ‘iron lung’ machine.

Despite being in the machine for over 70 years, Alexander has been sharing his story all over TikTok under the username @ironlungman.

He’s also used the platform to answer questions from his curious audience, such as what he does during a power cut.

Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus, that can result in paralysis in severe cases.

Paul Alexander uses TikTok to share his polio story and his life thereafter / Special Books by Special Kids/YouTube

Paul Alexander uses TikTok to share his polio story and his life thereafter / Special Books by Special Kids/YouTube

Whilst the paralysis is temporary for most polio sufferers, around one in 200 infections can lead to irreversible paralysis. Alexander was one of the unfortunate few and as a result, is unable to move his body from the neck down.

The paralysis from polio can impact the chest muscles and diaphragm of its survivors, making it very difficult for them to breathe.

Therefore, Alexander can be seen within an ‘iron lung’ machine which essentially helps him to breathe. It works by pumping air in and out, enabling his chest to expand and contract.

He talks about his life after contracting the disease during a polio epidemic, his university life at the University of Texas where he studied to be a lawyer, alongside his remarkable achievement of writing a book.

On his TikTok series, he explains that he spent five years writing an autobiography called Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung – all by typing into a computer using a pencil in his mouth.

Alexander explained that wrote an autobiography in five years by typing into a computer using a pencil in his mouth /Special Books by Special Kids/YouTube

Alexander explained that wrote an autobiography in five years by typing into a computer using a pencil in his mouth /Special Books by Special Kids/YouTube

In one of his clips, he said warmly: ‘I have goals and dreams of doing some more things before I go visit someplace else.’

Reportedly a machine from the past, Alexander is now just one of two people in the US who are reliant on the iron lung to breathe.

Alexander also warns of the many children not injected against polio and feels there’s a high risk of ‘another epidemic.’

His story has touched many of his devoted viewers as well as inspired them.

One social media user commented: ‘I’m impressed that even when the iron lung tried to stop him from living his dream of being a lawyer, he was still able to become a lawyer.’

Another wrote: ‘This is one of the most inspiring videos I have ever seen in the entirety of my existence.’

Whilst another viewer responded: ‘Paul you are an amazing person and have accomplished so much and will continue to achieve more! Thank you for sharing your stories.’

Featured Image Credit: Special Books by Special Kids/YouTube

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