Man living in iron lung for more than 70 years shows what happened when it started 'falling apart'
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A man who's spent more than 70 years of his life in an iron lung has explained what happened when the machine began 'falling apart'.
You only have to look at the device you're reading this on to know that technology and science has developed a lot over the years, but for seven decades Paul Alexander has relied on one very specific device - the iron lung.
The device, also known as a tank respirator, helps to pull air in and out of the lungs to simulate breathing by changing the pressure in an airtight metal box.
He is now the last person living in an iron lung, and he's opened up about what life is like living inside the chamber.
As the last iron lung was manufactured about 50 years ago, Alexander has struggled to find people who still know how to repair them.
At one point he was even forced to plead for help in a YouTube video in which he explained that the iron lung he was using every day was 'falling apart'.
Thankfully, in 2016 Alexander met mechanical engineer Brady Richards, who looked at the instructions featured on the iron lung and figured out how it all worked.
Recognising that Alexander's device was leaking and failing to create enough pressure, Richards was able to restore another iron lung which Alexander could then be transferred into.
Hear Richards discuss the project below:
Richards said: "The biggest challenge really was the lack of parts. It wasn't the big parts, it was the small parts - nobody's got them, so we have to make them ourselves."
Alexander credited Richards with helping him survive, saying: "I looked for years to find someone who knew how to work on iron lungs."
Though Alexander's movements have been restricted due to his breathing difficulties, he's still managed to live a full life, and even managed to pass the bar exam and become a lawyer.
Alexander has now outlived both his parents and his older brother, Nick, and in 2020 he published a memoir about his experience titled Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung.
Alexander has also been recognised by the Guinness World Records for the longest time spent living in an iron lung.