Attorney Paul Alexander chats with caregiver and friend Kathryn Gaines as he drinks coffee and she eats breakfast beside his iron lung at his home in Dallas. CREDIT:AP

Man who lived seven decades in iron lung dies at 78

By Jamie Stengle |

Dallas: A Texas man who spent most of his 78 years using an iron lung chamber and built a large following on social media, recounting his life from contracting polio in the 1940s to earning a law degree, has died.

Paul Alexander died Monday at a Dallas hospital, said Daniel Spinks, a longtime friend. He said Alexander had recently been hospitalised after being diagnosed with COVID-19 but did not know the cause of death.

Alexander was 6 when he began using an iron lung, a cylinder that encased his body as the air pressure in the chamber forced air into and out of his lungs. In recent years he had millions of views on his TikTok account called “Conversations With Paul”.

“He loved to laugh,” Spinks said. “He was just one of the bright stars of this world.”

Alexander told The Dallas Morning News in 2018 that he was powered by faith, and that what drove his motivation to succeed was his late parents, who he called “magical” and “extraordinary souls”.

“They just loved me,” he told the newspaper. “They said, ‘You can do anything.’ And I believed it.”

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