Paul Alexander (Polio Paul)

Attribution: Associated Press, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Alexander (Polio Paul)


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Paul Richard Alexander (January 30, 1946 – March 11, 2024) was an American lawyer and paralytic polio survivor. The last man living in an iron lung, he contracted polio in 1952 at the age of six. Alexander earned a bachelor's degree and juris doctor at the University of Texas at Austin. He self-published a memoir in 2020.


Alexander was born on January 30, 1946 in Dallas[1] to Gus Nicholas Alexander, the child of Greek immigrants, and Doris Marie Emmett, of Lebanese descent.[2][3] He contracted polio at the age of six and was paralyzed for life, only able to move his head, neck, and mouth.[4][5][6]

During a major U.S. outbreak of polio in the early 1950s, hundreds of children around Dallas, Texas, including Alexander, were taken to Parkland Hospital. There, children were treated in a ward of iron lungs. He almost died in the hospital before a doctor noticed he was not breathing and rushed him into an iron lung.[7]

He spent 18 months in hospital, before going home. His parents rented a portable generator and a truck to bring him and his iron lung home. Beginning in 1954, with help from the March of Dimes and a physical therapist named Mrs. Sullivan, Alexander taught himself glossopharyngeal breathing which allowed him to leave the iron lung for gradually increasing periods of time.[8]

Alexander was one of the Dallas Independent School District's first homeschooled students. He learned to memorize instead of taking notes. At 21, he graduated second in his class from W. W. Samuell High School in 1967, becoming the first person to graduate from a Dallas high school without physically attending a class.[2][8]

Alexander received a scholarship[4] to Southern Methodist University. He transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1978, then a Juris Doctor in 1984.[9] Before he was admitted to the bar in 1986, he was employed as an instructor of legal terminology to court stenographers at an Austin trade school. He represented clients in court in a three-piece suit and a modified wheelchair that held his body upright.[10][11]

Alexander has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the person who has spent the longest amount of time living in an iron lung.[12]

Alexander started a TikTok account in January 2024, where he posted videos discussing his life. He had more than 330,000 followers at the time of his death.[2]

Alexander died in Dallas on March 11, 2024, at the age of 78.[1][13] He had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in February,[13][14] however the actual cause of death was unclear.[15][13][14] He was one of the last two people still using the technology, alongside Martha Lillard, who first entered an iron lung in 1953.[16]


Alexander self-published his memoir, Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung, in April 2020 with the assistance of friend and former nurse Norman D. Brown.[17][18] The Guardian said, "It took him more than eight years to write it, using the plastic stick and a pen to tap out his story on the keyboard, or dictating the words to his friend."[8]



Paul Alexander (Polio Paul) has Sun in Aquarius, Moon in Capricorn.

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Sabian Symbols

Influenced by Impressionism

310°, Sun in Aquarius, Impressionism artwork
281°, Moon in Capricorn, Impressionism artwork
302°, Mercury in Aquarius, Impressionism artwork
309°, Venus in Aquarius, Impressionism artwork
107°, Mars in Cancer, Impressionism artwork
207°, Jupiter in Libra, Impressionism artwork
109°, Saturn in Cancer, Impressionism artwork
73°, Uranus in Gemini, Impressionism artwork
188°, Neptune in Libra, Impressionism artwork
130°, Pluto in Leo, Impressionism artwork
204°, Chiron in Libra, Impressionism artwork
87°, North Node in Gemini, Impressionism artwork
North NodeGemini
267°, South Node in Sagittarius, Impressionism artwork
South NodeSagittarius
229°, Lilith in Scorpio, Impressionism artwork
46°, Ascendant in Taurus, Impressionism artwork
300°, Midheaven in Aquarius, Impressionism artwork


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Natal Data

Map at Lat 32.7766642, Lng -96.79698789999999

1946-01-30 Unknown Time LMT

32° 46′ 36.0″ N 96° 47′ 49.2″ W

Dallas, TX, USA


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