Paul Alexander Longest Polio Survivor Dies.

Paul Richard Alexander (January 30, 1946 – March 11, 2024), was an American lawyer and a paralytic polio survivor. Despite spending most of his life in an iron lung, he led an extraordinary life, earning a law degree, practicing law for over 30 years, and authoring a memoir. His story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and an inspiration to many.

Early Life and Battle with Polio

Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 at the tender age of six. Within days, the disease robbed him of the use of his body. He was quickly paralyzed and doctors at Parkland Hospital in Dallas put him in an iron lung so that he could breathe. His parents rented a portable generator and a truck to bring him and his iron lung home.

Why is Paul Alexander in an Iron Lung?

The iron lung, a large metal cylinder that varies air pressure to stimulate breathing, became a constant companion for Paul. Despite the physical limitations, Paul never let his condition define him. He taught himself glossopharyngeal breathing which allowed him to leave the iron lung for gradually increasing periods of time. The Guinness World Records recognized him the world’s longest-surviving iron lung patient in March 2023..

Academic Achievements

Despite his condition, Paul was determined to pursue education. He was one of Dallas Independent School District’s first homeschooled students. He learned to memorize instead of taking notes. In 1967 he was graduated in second class form from W.W. Samuell High at the age of 21, becoming the first person to graduate from a Dallas high school without physically attending a class. He received a scholarship to Southern Methodist University and transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1978, then a Juris Doctor in 1984.

GradeSchool | UniversityPositionYearAcademic Achievements
High SchoolW. W. Samuell High SchoolGraduated1967Graduated second in his class without physically attending classes
UndergraduateSouthern Methodist UniversityScholarshipReceived a scholarship to SMU
UndergraduateUniversity of Texas at AustinBachelor’s1978Transferred and earned a bachelor’s degree
GraduateUniversity of Texas at AustinJuris Doctor1984Obtained a Juris Doctor
Academic Achievements of Paul Alexander

Career as a Lawyer

Before he was admitted to the bar in 1986, Paul 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. His career as a lawyer spanned over 30 years.

Paul Alexander’s Book

Paul Alexander

Paul authored a memoir titled “Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung”  with the assistance of his friend Norman D. Brown. The title refers to his accomplishment of learning how to breathe independently for at least three minutes – a feat that took him a year to master and was rewarded with a dog. He wrote the book by putting a pen or pencil in his mouth.


Paul Alexander’s life is a story of resilience, determination, and the power of the human spirit. Despite the physical limitations imposed by polio and the iron lung, he led a fulfilling life, achieving academic success, building a career as a lawyer, and sharing his story through his memoir. His life serves as an inspiration to many and a reminder that we are capable of great things, regardless of the challenges we face.

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Hi, I'm AAG! 5+ years living on the web's cutting edge, bringing you the most interesting news in tech, business, and beyond. Let's explore the future, together! Find me on our social media handle(s).

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