Call these medical miracles, acts of God or flukes. Regardless of the description you use, these are some truly amazing stories of people defying medical science.
Real Family Loyalty
Terry Wallis was 20 years old in 1984 when his truck skidded off of a bridge. The accident left him quadriplegic and in a vegetative state. Doctors believed he would never recover. Despite the Doctors’ diagnosis, Wallis’ family did not lose hope, and made the decision to have him attend family events despite his vegetative state. According to the family’s website, “A quick flip through the Wallis family photo album will tell you how unusual this decision was. There's Terry in every single Christmas picture, year after year."
"He's propped up in the corner with a Santa Claus cap on his head, staring straight into the lens with his wide-eyed, gape-mouthed vacant expression while family and friends throw their arms around him and laugh and joke and share eggnog.” Then in 2003, 19 years after his accident, he spoke, believing he was still 20 years old and that Ronald Reagan was President. Wallis is now speaking in full sentences but continues to require extensive speech and physical therapy.
Living as One
The life expectancy for conjoined twins who are unable to be separated strongly depends on what organs they share. Conjoined twins that share a heart for example have a low survival rate. Ronnie and Donnie Gaylon are currently the world’s oldest living conjoined twins at 61 years old. They have separate stomachs, lungs, and hearts, but share one large intestine and a single set of male reproductive organs. While their longevity is a medical miracle by itself, the real miracle is that these two brothers who are said to have polar opposite personalities have managed not to kill each other by now.
Not the Way You Want to Make the Guinness World Records
Being the holder of a Guinness World Record isn’t always a good thing. Take Michael Hill, who is currently the record holder for “Largest Object Removed From Human Skull.” In 1998, Hill was stabbed in the head with an 8-inch survival knife. Hill walked to a friend’s house, and the friend took him to the hospital where they removed the knife. He survived the attack, but has brain damage, and paralysis in his left hand.
A Half-Man in Name Only
In 1995, Peng Shuilin’s body was cut in half when he was run over by a freight truck in his native China. While his lower body was beyond repair, surgeons sewed up his upper torso. He spent two years in the hospital undergoing countless surgeries to reroute nearly all his internal organ systems and building up the strength in his arms and chest. With the help of a prosthetic lower body and crutches, he is able to walk under his own power. He has opened a bargain supermarket named “Half Man-Half Price Store” (we’re not kidding) and gives inspirational lectures throughout China detailing his story.
The Seeing Tooth
Martin Jones, a British scrap-yard worker, lost his eyesight in 1997 when a tub of molten aluminum exploded in his face. In 2009, doctors used a rare procedure that involved affixing an optical lens to a tooth extracted from his mouth. The tooth was implanted in his eye socket, enabling him to see through the single eye. The whole process took nearly four months, and allowed Jones to see his wife, whom he married several years after the accident, for the first time
A New Mom at Age 70
Rajo Devi Lohan and her husband had tried for years in vain to have children. Then, because of advances in modern medicine, the couple used an egg donor and Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which involves directly injecting sperm into the egg. They successfully conceived, and in 2008, Lohan gave birth by C-section. However, since the birth, she has endured numerous health problems. She was quoted as saying, “I dreamed about having a child all my life. It does not matter to me that I am ill, because at least I lived long enough to become a mother.”
Have You Seen My Keys?
In 2008, 17-month-old Nicholas Holderman was playing with his brothers when he landed on a set of keys. One of the keys pierced his eye and became embedded in his brain. The key was removed, and three months later, his eyesight was completely restored with no other residual effects. In fact, his family now jokes with people about the injury, asking them if they can guess which eye the key pierced.
The Real Robocop
In 1987, Baltimore police officer Gene Cassidy was shot twice in the head while trying to make an arrest. Miraculously, Cassidy survived but permanently lost his eyesight. Cassidy did not let that stop him from earning a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and becoming a teacher at Baltimore’s police academy. Cassidy’s ordeal still wasn’t over, though. During his treatment for the gunshot wounds, he contracted hepatitis C through one of the many blood transfusions he received. As a result, he required a liver transplant in June of this year. When asked about all that he’s been through, he was quoted as saying, "You keep going and swinging away.”
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Sanju Bhagat, a native of India, learned to manage with his abnormally large stomach until he was hospitalized for shortness of breath in 1999. 36 years old at the time, doctors presumed he had a tumor in his stomach and operated to remove it. However, when they opened him up, they found a partly formed fetus with highly developed hands and feet. It was discovered that Bhagat had a very rare condition called fetus in fetu, which results from one fetus wrapping around its twin during pregnancy.
The enveloped fetus lives off the other fetus like a parasite. Typically, both twins die before birth but in Bhagat’s case he survived and the twin grew inside of him connecting directly to his blood supply. The twin did not have a brain or developed organs and was removed. Bhagat made a full recovery.
On Dec. 4, 1987, 11 year-old Alvaro Garza fell through some ice into the bone-chilling waters of the Red River in North Dakota. Garza was underwater for 45 minutes before rescuers pulled him out. His survival is attributed to the actions of the paramedics and doctors who treated him and a phenomenon known as the mammalian reflex. Triggered by extreme cold, the mammalian reflex is an oxygen-conserving response that shuts down all the body’s non-vital functions, preventing swelling in the brain and increasing the chances for a full recovery. Garza, now 36, lives with his wife and four children in Texas.