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Man who has lived inside iron lung for more than 70 years relives harrowing moment machine stopped working

Man who has lived inside iron lung for more than 70 years relives harrowing moment machine stopped working

Paul Alexander has lived in an iron lung for most of his life

A man living inside an iron lung has recalled the terrifying moment he faced when the machine stopped working.

Paul Alexander, from Dallas, Texas, has used a huge tank respirator since contracting polio at just six-years-old, with the machine pulling air in and out of his lungs to stimulate breathing.

Paul contracted polio in his childhood - after playing outdoors with his brother, he began to suffer with aches in his muscles and developed a fever, as well as fatigue.

He was left paralysed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own again - leading to him being placed in an iron lung.

The illness has left him dependent on the machine, with the 78-year-old having spent most of his life inside the iron lung.

In more recent times, Paul has become a huge personality on TikTok, with his account now running a new series called 'Convos with Paul!', which allows his followers to ask any burning questions they might have.

Speaking on his TikTok account, Paul recently responded to a question that asked him: "What happens when the iron lung stops working or when the power goes out?"

Paul Alexander relies on the iron lung to breathe.

Speaking from his usual horizontal position in the machine, he explained: "Say the electricity goes out, bad storm electricity. Without electricity the iron lung doesn't work, because it's all run by electric pulses.

"So if the electricity goes out, it stops and I stop breathing."

He continued: "It's a defining moment because to me that's life or death. If it doesn't start back up, it's death because I can't breathe very long on my own without the iron lung."

Continuing his answer the TikTok question, he then recalled one moment where the machine almost failed and left his life hanging in the balance.

He told his TikTok viewers: "I've had my attendant and Kathy before in the middle of the night come running in the dark with no electricity, no lights but came running over to me leaned over and put her lips on mine and blew air into my lungs. She was a warrior and she saved my life."

Hundreds of patients ended up in iron lungs after contracting polio.
Mitch Summers/YouTube

Paul regularly answers questions from those curious about his unique life, including one common one which is whether or not Paul can ever get out of the iron lung.

Opening up on the aim of his social media account, Paul previously told his followers: "I want to talk to the world about polio and the millions of children not protected against polio.They have to be before there is another epidemic."

Despite living inside the metal contraption, Paul has still lived a full life.

He passed high school and went on to acquire two law degrees, wrote a book about his life, and spent years practising law and running his legal practice from a specially modified wheelchair.

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/@ironlungman

Topics: Health, World News, US News