Medicine has come a long way within the past two centuries, but sometimes accidents, illnesses and deformities can confound even the most educated and experienced doctor. The following list contains ten of the most famous ‘medical miracles’ performed by doctors and, perhaps, by the patient’s own will to survive. These ‘miracles’ consisted of a willingness on the part of doctors, patients and parents to consent to medical treatment in an otherwise unbearable or fatal situation.
In most cases, the miracles seem most obvious on the front end, when patients survive or have overcome odds against living a ‘normal’ life. In all cases, however, the patients’ plights and the medical remedies have altered those patients’ lives forever. Only time will tell if these patients continue to live a healthy, if not totally normal, life.
- Survives Orthopedic Decapitation: Doctors gave nine-year-old Jordan Taylor a one percent chance of survival after his skull was lifted from his vertebrae in an automobile accident. Dr. Richard Roberts connected Jordan’s head with metal plates, screws and rods and — three months later — Jordan returned to school. He can walk and talk. This is a medical miracle considering the extent of his injuries.
- Survived Without Heart for 118 Days: Fourteen-year-old D’Zhana Simmons needed a new heart, but the wait was longer than her current heart could bear. Doctors, including Dr. Si Pham, removed her heart and kept her alive for four months with two heart transplants that involved heart pumps. During that time, D’Zhana said she felt like a “fake person,” but is grateful for her new heart and for the ability to keep her alive during the waiting process.
- Stabbed in Head and Survived: Michael Hill now holds the Guinness World Book of Records title for “Largest Object Removed From Human Skull,” but he probably wishes he never had to go that route. Hill answered a friend’s door in Jacksonville, Florida and was stabbed in the head with a 20 cm (8 in) survival knife on April 25, 1998. Hill walked to another friend’s house, and they took him to Shands jacksonville Trauma Center. Four hours after he arrived, the knife was removed. While he survived, the wound caused permanent damage to his memory and paralyzed his left hand.
- Man Cut in Half Survives and Now Walks: Peng Shulin’s body was cut in half by a lorry in 1995. Although it was a miracle that he survived, he was chained to a bed for years as he developed skills to build up his arm muscles. Recently, doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Centre in Beijing learned about Peng’s plight and devised a way for him to walk on his own again. The device is an egg-like casing with two bionic legs attached.
- Girl Survives Removal of Two Legs, Two Arms: Lakshmi Tatma was born attached to a headless identical twin sister, a rare case that left Lakshmi unable to crawl or walk. But, she had one complete body with a near-perfect set of organs, so Dr. Sharan Patil led a surgery team into one of the most complicated surgeries ever conducted to remove two-year-old Lakshmi’s extra limbs and organs. The surgery was successful, which allows Lakshmi now to live a normal and, hopefully, long life.
- Leaky Brain Fixed with Glue: Ella-Grace Honeyman was born with Vein of Galen malformation, which causes tiny holes in brain blood vessels. The seventeen-month-old girl was given just weeks to live when her parents hired a team of pioneering U.S. surgeons. Those surgeons fired organic glue into the artery holes to plug them. While the doctors saved her life, the operations may be ongoing in a process to fix any new leaks. This disease affects about 250 people in the world.
- A Tooth for an Eye: Martin Jones lose his left eye and was blinded in the right eye when a tub of molten aluminum exploded in his face twelve years ago. Then, he allowed surgeon Christopher Lui and his team to pull a canine from his mouth, attach a tiny optical lens to that tooth and then implant the tooth into his eye socket. The process took about four months, but Martin can see again through that one eye. And, he seems to relish the shock that his eye gives to onlookers…it’s a bit spooky, but serviceable.
- Man Awakens After 20-Year Sleep: In 1983, Terry Wallis suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident. Twenty years later, he emerged from what doctors call a “minimally conscious state,” which is somewhere between being awake and being in a vegetative state. Doctors now believe that Terry’s brain built new pathways during those two decades that allowed him to become fully conscious and began to talk. However, he lost the ability to store new memories and he maintains physical disabilities from the original accident.
- Electrodes Stimulate “Dead” Brain: A patient was unable to communicate, swallow or make coordinated physical movements for almost six years after he was seriously assaulted now can speak, eat, and laugh. Doctors implanted electrodes into that man’s brain, using a stimulation technique already used on patients with Parkinson’s disease. A patient who receives this type of treatment, and if it is appropriate to the case, may receive immediate results.
- Cured by a Spider Bite? David Blancarte almost was killed in a motorcycle accident about two decades ago. he survived, but has been confined to a wheelchair. Then, he was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, a bite that sent him to a hospital for eight months. But, during that time, he began to feel his legs and, within five days, David was walking again. He may need to learn how to run, however, as he was arrested earlier this year for an outstanding warrant stemming from a domestic abuse case.