It is amazing that for all of our advancements and technology the human body still manages to remain a mystery that continually surprises us. There is much we still do not know about what our own bodies are capable of or how they work, and this can become most noticeable in cases of incredible recoveries from things that our current knowledge says we should not be able to come back from. History is rife with such medical miracles and anomalies, which show that there are frontiers within us every bit as mysterious and enigmatic as the farthest reaches of space or the deepest reaches of the sea. Here is a collection of accounts of modern medical miracles that continue to stump us and give us hope that there are true wonders to be found out there within each and every one of us.
Some of the most impressive and shocking medical miracles involve people somehow surviving and completely recovering from grievous injuries that should have very well killed them or at least handicapped them for life. One man who would know about this is Alcides Moreno, who in December of 2007 was with his brother Edgar Moreno perched 47 stories up in the air washing the windows of a Manhattan skyscraper. At some point there was a freak cable malfunction and the scaffolding platform they were on dropped with a jolt to catapult them off and send them careening towards the street far below.
Edgar Moreno would tragically be killed on impact, and Alcides was presumed to be dead as well, as it was impossible for a human being to survive such a treacherous fall, with most people not even surviving a 4 or 5 story fall, or was it? Amazingly, Alcides was found to still be breathing, barely, although his body was so smashed that doctors did not even want to risk moving him to a proper operating room, instead working on him in the emergency room he was first brought to. Unfortunately, he would remain in a deep coma for weeks, and it was not expected that he would ever wake up. Then, on Christmas Day of that year, Alcides began to speak and open his eyes, and less than one year later he was walking again, almost as good as new. That he managed to even live at all, let alone go back to a normal life with his family after such a terrifying fall has confounded the medical community ever since, with one of Alcide’s doctors saying of his remarkable survival and recovery, “If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one.”
In another case of miraculous recovery from an injury that should have meant certain death, 9-year-old Jordan Taylor was riding in a car with his mother when they were in a horrific collision. Although Jordan had been wearing his seatbelt, the force of the impact had thrown him forward so violently that his skull completely detached from his spine, in a horrific injury doctors call “orthopedic decapitation.” Yes, it is as bad as it sounds, and the victims in these cases are effectively decapitated, with the survival rate for such injuries nearly nonexistent.
Jordan was brought to the hospital, where doctors worked frantically to reattach his skull with titanium rods and a metal plate, but he was given less than a 1% chance of survival. Indeed, none of the attending physicians had ever seen a case of someone surviving such an injury, and in the extremely rare cases when a victim does survive they are typically paralyzed for life or profoundly brain damaged. Defying all odds and completely baffling doctors, 3 months later Jordan left the hospital on his own two feet, and was back at school not long after. Jordan’s family attributes his unbelievable survival and recovery to the power of prayer, but whatever the reason may be, it is amazing to be sure.
In 2011 there was the case of 12-year-old Dale Ostrander, who was out for a day at Long Beach in Washington state, in the United States, when he was suddenly grabbed by a riptide and pulled out to sea while wading ankle deep. Dale is estimated to have spent a full 20 minutes underwater before he was pulled from the dark, cold waters by 12-year-old Nicole Kissel, who was out body boarding. Dale was found to not be breathing and to have no pulse. The boy was amazingly resuscitated, but was not in good shape. He was placed in a medically induced coma and he was mostly considered to be brain dead at best, but 4 days later he would suddenly wake up without explanation. Dale then underwent months of rehabilitation and was incredibly able to make a full recovery, despite the fact that he had technically drowned. Doctors have been puzzled by the case, and suspect that Dale’s survival was most likely due to a combination of his young age and the frigid water, which had induced hypothermia that had in turn caused Dale’s brain to go into a sort of suspended animation to reduce oxygen consumption.
A perhaps even weirder case comes from England and concerns a 42-year-old builder named Martin Jones, who had been left blind after an accident in which white hot aluminum sprayed directly into his face while he was working at a scrapyard. The accident left him with 37% of his body burned and necessitated the removal of his left eye. In most cases this would be the end of the story, and the victim would be hopelessly blinded for life. Indeed, doctors tried to save his sight using stem cells, but it failed. He was beyond hope.
However, doctors at the Sussex Eye Clinic in Brighton decided to try an extremely experimental procedure in which they would graft portions of his skin to his remaining eye using pieces of his own tooth. The idea was that since it was Martin’s own tissue, his body would not reject it as it would something made of plastic. The operation involved taking a piece of the skin from the inner cheek and leaving it within the eye until it gets its own blood supply. A tooth is then specially shaped to serve as a grip for a new artificial lens, which is placed under the eyelid until tissue builds up around it and the implanted skin pulled up around it. Amazingly, the procedure worked, and Martin has regained eyesight in his right eye.
Besides accidents and injuries, there are plenty of cases surrounding people who have miraculously come back from all manner of life-threatening ailments and conditions. In July of 2013, 12-year-old Kali Hardig of Benton, Arkansas, went with her family to a nearby water park and not long after she began to complain of mysterious and excruciating headaches. It would turn out that at some point a malicious amoeba had travelled up her nose and into her brain, where it had begun to eat away at tissue in a condition called amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is unfortunately nearly always fatal. In fact, doctors informed the girl’s parents that only 2 people in North America had ever come out of the condition alive, and Kali was not even expected to survive for 48 hours.
Doctors immediately put Kali in a medically induced coma and filled her with anti-fungal drugs and an experimental German medication in an attempt to battle the amoeba and reduce the increasing swelling of the brain as her kidneys began to fail and a dialysis machine was also hooked up to her. Kali amazingly survived past the 48 hour mark, but her battle had just begun. For two weeks doctors tirelessly worked on her, and she was attached to a ventilator as well, as her brain continued to swell and her blood pressure went up and down in huge waves. All through this Kali was not expected to live, let alone see any signs of noticeable recovery, but then suddenly her blood pressure stabilized and her swelling went down.
Even then it was not certain whether she would make it, or whether she would suffer from debilitating brain damage or not. Then, 2 days later she woke up and proved to be the same little girl her parents had always known. She was not out of the woods yet, as she would struggle with a further 8 weeks of treatment and rehabilitation, but she would eventually recover back to normal and go back to school. Doctors have no idea how she survived the amoeba or what they did right to bring her back, and a boy who later suffered the very same condition would die even with identical treatment. One of the attending doctors would say of the possible reasons for Kali’s amazing recovery:
Number one, it was God’s grace. Other than that, it was countless little things that went her way, countless little miracles that happened every day and made the difference between life and death.
There are often no clear answers to how the body has managed to heal itself and come back from such hopeless conditions. In another such case 23-year-old Michael Crowe was sitting on his sofa relaxing on August 17, 2012, when he suddenly lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. It was found that his heart’s blood pumping capacity was rapidly dropping, going from 25% to just 10% in a shockingly short amount of time. He was discovered to have suffered acute inflammation of the heart, which had been caused by a virus. Doctors told him that a heart transplant was crucial, and cardiologist Eugenia Raichlin would say of his condition, “His heart failure was so bad. The rate of mortality is huge.”
Although Michael was hooked up to an external heart-lung machine, his condition continued to deteriorate, and he was plagued with severe fever and convulsions. On several occasions his heart stopped altogether, with only the machine keeping him alive, and he also suffered from blood clots and internal hemorrhaging. His prognosis was not looking good, and after 17 days there was still no suitable heart replacement in sight. By the time a new heart was finally found, Michael had developed a blood infection that made an operation too dangerous. Nothing was going right.
It was at this time that Michael’s cardiologist noticed something unusual in that his blood pressure was rising even though it should have remained the same due to the heart-lung machine. A series of tests were done to figure out just what the problem was this time, and to their befuddlement they found that the left side of the heart was working normally again, which should not have been. Four days later, Michael’s heart had completely recovered, such that a transplant was not even necessary anymore, and it seemed as if his heart had simply healed itself, which should have been impossible and has prompted one of the doctors to say, “He overcame everything. He was very debilitated, but he rebuilt himself.” Michael Crowe went on to make a mysterious full recovery, to the point that his heart displayed no damage whatsoever.
Speaking of hearts, 14-year-old D’Zhana Simmons underwent heart transplant surgery for an enlarged heart but unfortunately her body would begin to reject the new organ. Since there was no other heart available, doctors decided to remove the heart and keep her blood flowing with two external pumps. It was a very unusual procedure in that although artificial hearts have been used before there is usually a heart in the body, but in this case the girl had no heart at all and it’s duties were being completely handled by an external machine. She would live for nearly 4 months like this, without a heart, and the procedure was not without its drawbacks. She would go on to suffer liver and kidney problems as a result, but in the end she was able to get a successful heart transplant and make a full recovery.
If injuries, accidents, and medical problems aren’t enough to deal with, how about coming back from death itself? On September 23 of 2014, 40-year-old Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro gave birth to a baby girl at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital, in Florida. It was a joyous time for the family that was about to be marred by tragedy. Shortly after the birth, Ruby collapsed and went into full cardiac arrest, which was found to have been caused by a rare amniotic fluid embolism brought about by her cesarean section birth. This condition entails embryonic fluid escaping the uterus and traveling through the bloodstream to the heart where it blocks blood flow, and it is usually fatal. She was immediately put onto a heart-lung machine, but she soon lost her pulse and heartbeat even as a team of doctors and nurses desperately fought for her life.
They continued this battle for nearly 2 hours before they resigned themselves to her death. They stopped their efforts and were ready to call the time of death, in fact, and by this time Ruby had been technically dead and without a pulse for around 45 minutes. Thinking her dead, the family was brought in to say their last goodbyes, and that was considered to be the end, but then something remarkable happened. Ruby’s heart started to beat again on its own and her pulse picked up again, nearly an hour after it had stopped. One of the baffled doctors would describe the scene thus:
I was seconds away from turning off the ventilation machine when one of the nurses shouted, ‘Stop!’” Without any medicine or CPR, Ruby’s heart began to beat on its own for the first time in two hours. It is just indescribable. She is in perfect health. It’s almost as if this never happened. It’s a miracle. I’m not a highly religious person, but you just don’t see this happen.
Ruby would leave the hospital under her own power 4 days later, none the worse for wear, and she didn’t even suffer any brain damage, which nearly always happens in these rare cases. Interestingly, Ruby would later describe that she had left her body and travelled through a tunnel of light, which is a classic cornerstone of near-death experiences. It remains unknown just how she managed to kick back to life after being dead for 45 minutes and without CPR at the time, nor where the amniotic build-up that had caused the problem to begin with could have gone, and it is a true modern medical miracle.
There are certainly many more such cases, and I have only presented here a sample of some modern examples. What lies at the root of such cases? Is this just the skill of the doctors or the techniques they use? Is it the power of prayer or some higher power? Is it just some function of the human body coming into effect that we just don’t understand? Is it just coincidence or a combination of unknown factors? Is it just luck? Or is it maybe a little bit of all of the above? No one really knows, except to say that accounts such as these manage to surprise and inspire even the most experienced doctors. Whatever the reasons may be for these apparent miracles, they go to show us that there is much we do not yet understand about the frontiers of the human body, and suggest that there are perhaps mysterious forces at play, be those natural or something more, that can give us hope and pull us from death even in our most dire hours.