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Texas man who lived seven decades in iron lung dies at age 78

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - A paralyzed Texas man who lived 70 years inside an iron lung after he survived polio as a child has died, his family said.

Paul Alexander, 78, died on Monday, his brother Philip said in a post on Facebook. He gave no cause of death.

"It was an honor to be part of someone's life who was as admired as he was. He touched and inspired millions of people and that is no exaggeration," Philip Alexander wrote in a post on Tuesday.

Alexander was six years old when he was placed in full-body metal cylinder known as an iron lung in 1952 after contracting polio, a deadly disease that once paralyzed tens of thousands of children every year. An iron lung uses pressure to blow air into the lungs.

Alexander graduated law school, passed the bar and practiced law. He also traveled to every continent, his brother said.

"He commanded a room. What a flirt! He loved good food, wine, women, long conversations, learning, and laughing," his brother wrote.

Alexander contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized in February. His illness left him weak and dehydrated, according to a spokesperson on TikTok, where Alexander had more than 300,000 followers.

(This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of the word 'metal' in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Nick Macfie)