Modern medicine is truly amazing, but it can only go so far...usually. Injuries, illnesses, and conditions all come with a percentage attached to them, which signifies the likelihood that someone will survive them. A fall from 500 feet, for example, has around a 99.99999% mortality rate. But that's not 100%. So what about all the tiny fraction-of-a-percent cases where someone pulls through against all odds? Those are referred to as miracles. They might not be common, but, based on the stories below, they do happen.
A man survives a steel rod through the head in 1848. Modern medicine truly is a breathtaking science, and the survival of Phineas Gage would be considered miraculous today. In 1848, however, it was not only all the more remarkable (in retrospect, anyway), but also ended up helping the medical community understand how brain injuries affect both physical and mental traits. In 1848, Gage was working on railroad construction when an explosion sent a nearly-four-foot iron rod right through his skull. That's the same rod in the photo. Doctors were able to remove the rod, but Gage suffered from partial paralysis of the left side of his face, as well as some mental changes.
A football player walks after a devastating spinal injury. After a tackle gone wrong in the NFL's 2009 season, Denver Broncos player Domenik Hixon was left with a catastrophic spinal injury. He was left unable to move of feel his body from the neck down. Though there was only a 20% chance that he would walk again (at most), doctors tried the controversial treatment known as "cold therapy" on Hixon. This involved flushing the blood vessels with cold water to reduce swelling. The procedure worked, and Hixon was not only able to walk again, but would continue to play football.
14-year-old D'Zhana Simmons suffered from a weak and enlarged heart, requiring a transplant. Sadly, the donor heart didn't take, and had to be removed. This meant that for nearly four months, Simmons' blood was pumped not by an organ, but by two artificial blood pumps. The experience was harrowing, but she survived and received a second, successful heart transplant after 118 days with no heart.
After suffering grievous injuries in a car crash in 2009, 17-year-old Katrina Burgess's bones were put back together with the help of 11 titanium pins in her neck, spine, and leg, as well as a screw to support her neck. After five months of operations, she made a near-full recovery and is currently signed to a modeling agency.
In January of 2007, Shannon Malloy was involved in a car accident where her skull became separated from her spine. Her spinal cord, though, remained fairly unscathed, which was good in the long run, but means that Malloy actually remembers losing control of her head. This injury is known as "internal decapitation." Armed with nothing but a will to survive, Malloy was rushed to a hospital where nine screws were drilled into her head and neck. The apparatus seen here, called a "halo," was attached to keep her head in place. She still has trouble swallowing and nerve damage to her eyes, but she continues to work on her recovery.
After a near-fatal accident, a man was left in a vegetative state for six years, unable to communicate, swallow, or make coordinated movements. One day, in sort of a last-ditch effort, doctors attached electrodes to his thalamus, which manages sensory perception and regulates motor function. That was apparently the kickstart the man needed; after the procedure, he was able to talk, feed himself, and communicate with his family.
Facing a parent's true nightmare, Shannon and Mike Gimbel were told that they would have to terminate one of their twins to ensure the survival of the other. The twins had a rare condition called Twin-to-Twin Syndrome, where the babies are attached by the blood vessels, and one fetus literally drains the life out of the other. If one twin was not terminated, doctors said, both had a 90% chance of dying. The Gimbels made the decision to terminate the weaker twin, but then another option appeared. Using lasers, the doctors burned the blood vessels connecting the twins, separating them. Both twin girls were born healthy two months later in June 2008.
Window washer Alciedes Moreno plummeted 47 stories while on a job in 2007. Sadly, his brother, who also fell, did not survive. Moreno did, albeit with very serious injuries, including collapsed lungs and blood clots in the brain. To give an idea of the rarity of his survival, half the people who fall from only four stories do not survive. His recovery has been remarkable, though; last January, he walked 3.1 miles for charity.
Builder Martin Jones was blinded 12 years ago in an accident, and was unable to see until a bizarre procedure restored the sight in his remaining eye. The procedure involved removing one of Jones' canine teeth and repurposing it as a lens-holder. After some preparation, it was inserted into his eye, and today, Jones has near-perfect vision in his right eye. The best thing about having his vision restored? Jones was able to see his wife, Gill, who he married after the accident, for the first time.
Born with a rare malformation of her blood vessels, Ella-Grace Honeyman suffered from aneurysms as a baby, where blood would leak into her brain from holes in her blood vessels. To combat this, doctors used a type of medical superglue to patch up the holes in the blood vessels. The procedure didn't fix the issue completely, but Honeyman will be able to live a long, healthy life as a result.
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