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Bionic Reading

Texas Man Has Been Living in Machine That Helps Him Breathe For More Than 70 years

• A man has been living with an iron lung for 70 years due to polio he got as a child
• In 1952, an outbreak of an illness in Texas caused shutdowns, closed pubs, and social distancing orders
• The virus had no cure or vaccine, overwhelming the healthcare system
• Paul Alexander survived the illness but was left paralyzed and needing an iron lung
• He learned "frog breathing," passed high school, got law degrees, and became an advocate for polio and Covid-19 awareness

In a twist of fate, Paul Alexander’s childhood play led him on a remarkable journey that defied all odds. It was 1952 when an outbreak of an unknown illness swept through Texas, forcing shutdowns and social distancing measures. Little did six-year-old Paul know that he would be a victim of this mysterious virus.

As the virus ravaged the nation, Paul found himself paralyzed from the neck down, confined to an iron lung just to breathe. “I had become immobile; I don’t think I could even talk,” he recollected, surrounded by other hopeless polio-stricken children. But against all expectations, he survived and awoke in the iron lung ward, facing a new chapter in his life.

 

Trapped inside the machine, Paul’s determination grew. With grit and ingenuity, he mastered “frog breathing,” a technique using throat muscles to swallow oxygen, allowing him brief moments of freedom from the iron lung. His perseverance was rewarded with a promise of a dog if he could breathe unaided for three minutes. And he did it!

Despite the challenges, Paul’s spirit soared. He defied the odds by excelling in high school, obtaining two law degrees, and building a successful legal practice, all from his specially modified wheelchair. His parents’ unwavering love and belief in him fueled his inner strength. “They said, ‘You can do anything.’ And I believed it.”

Now in his late 70s, Paul’s journey comes full circle as he finds himself back in the iron lung full-time. But instead of succumbing to despair, he has become a fierce advocate. Raising awareness of polio and COVID-19 dangers, Paul remains a living testament to resilience and determination.

His tale is a testament to the indomitable human spirit, reminding us that challenges can be surmounted with unwavering willpower. In the face of adversity, Paul Alexander’s extraordinary journey serves as a beacon of hope and strength, inspiring us all to face life’s obstacles with courage and grace.