Doctors Share The Patients Who Surprisingly Survived A Dire Fate
When it comes to our health, doctors usually know what’s best. Generally speaking, they are able to make accurate predictions and prognoses using the medical knowledge and statistics they’ve acquired over the years. However, every now and then, they come across patients who defy the odds and make it out of dire situations alive. Here are their stories, through a doctor’s perspective:
#1 A Kid’s Bounce
I was working in the emergency department when a toddler came in after falling out of a three-story window completely unharmed. The sad thing was they were from a rough neighborhood and the mom hadn’t noticed for about half an hour. Apparently, the friendly apartment tenants found him, checked him over and sat with him for half an hour. When mom didn’t show up, they went to find her. The child was admitted overnight mostly for social reasons, but it’s just amazing how well kids bounce.
#2 Lucky Leg
I was a surgical resident in a small-town hospital. We got paged to see a patient for a speared piece of driftwood through the leg. We were thinking it was a nicked femoral artery and wondered if this poor kid needed amputation, but when we saw him, he was standing on the skewered leg. It turns out, the wood missed every single one of the vital vessels and there was no fracture, just muscular damage.
#3 An Unexplained Miracle
One guy wrecked his car into a wooden fence, and a post went through his mouth. It was the kind of fence post that was double the size of his mouth. It had basically pushed all of the important anatomies to the side. There were consulting doctors for like 10 different specialties working on this guy in the hospital. Several weeks later, after he fully recovered. He even walked back to the emergency department to thank everyone.
#4 A Real Emergency
Once, I had a guy come in who had been cutting a tree with a chainsaw when it hit a knot in the wood and kicked up into his neck. He finished cutting the tree because he knew his wife would make him get rid of the chainsaw. He put a towel on it and drove himself to the hospital. CT showed no vascular damage—a simple washout and he was home the next day. One of the paramedics who saw him said to his patient: “That’s a real emergency, why don’t we ever get those?”
#5 The Hardcore Logger
I had a neighbor who was in the logging business. He was working alone and wasn’t wearing chaps. A saw kicked back and went into his thigh, barely missing his femoral artery. When he jerked it away from his leg, he hit the tree and somehow broke the chain, which then wrapped itself around his face and neck. Mainly superficial damage there. He tied his leg off and drove himself to the nearest hospital that was over 50 miles away. This was in the ’80s, so there were no cell phones, etc. He just ended up with some gnarly scars.
#6 The Immortal One
My dad has this 12-year-old patient named Tim and everyone in the hospital firmly believes he’s immortal. Tim was born with a bad heart and is constantly in and out of the ICU. He goes in almost once or twice a month. 9 out of 10 admissions, Tim flatlines. Strangely, Tim always comes back, even if you don’t resuscitate him. I’d say Tim flatlined about 15 times in total.
It’s at the point that whenever Tim flatlines, nobody panics. Not even his mom. The first three times, she fell on the floor crying. “Hey guys, Tim’s vitals are dropping.” “Again? Whew, that kid’s definitely going for a record.” Tim’s pretty chill about it too. He talks about his ICU trips like how a normal kid talks about a mildly eventful day at school. Nobody knows how Tim always comes back. He just does. Frankly, I’m surprised the media hasn’t done a story about it because it’s freaking metal.
#7 Metal Cocoon
Serious accident. It was a multi-car crash on a highway. When they realized there was a crunched vehicle between two other vehicles (these vehicles were each half their original size from the impacts), they assumed the person inside the barely visible vehicle was liquified. I don’t know the accident details other than that.
He had been driving a pickup truck. He was alive. He didn’t lose any limbs but had a few minor injuries. The vehicle somehow perfectly wrapped around the driver’s seat, giving this man a metal cocoon. Good thing he didn’t have any passengers. There’s a picture of this guy in his cocoon, smiling at the camera while waiting for help.
#8 Three Bandaids
During one of my night shifts as a medical student, I had to look after a patient who came to the ER for a car accident. Well, that’s quite common… What is not is that he came by himself, from 40 km away, by calling a taxi because his car was absolutely wrecked in the accident. Normally, when your car ends up upside down, after two or three rollovers at 60km/h, you are not really fine…
However, he was totally okay! No broken bone, no head trauma, no abdominal pain, nothing! He just came to the ER because he had little dermabrasions over his knees and one his elbow. Three band-aids later and he was good to go!
#9 Taking A Hit
Not a doctor, but a fellow worker took a 35-pound steel plate being propelled by 3770 psi (equivalent to 188.5 car tires) to the face. It sent him 15 feet in the air, and 40 feet back. He broke every bone in his face, but he lived and was back to work eight months later. He had full facial reconstruction surgery and he also got a new set of teeth. Major improvement, in my opinion. He’s a dreamboat now.
#10 Not His Time Yet
Junior doctor on the trauma team here. The doors to the ER flew open to reveal a man carrying a second blood-soaked man in his arms. We got him onto a stretcher and it was clear he had a wound to his chest and had gone into cardiac arrest. Chest compressions were started and within minutes, the A&E consultant was performing an open thoracotomy in order to start the cardiac massage.
Cardiothoracic surgeons joined us quickly and got to work on the heart. A hole in the right ventricle was identified and plugged with a Foley catheter. All the while, bag after bag of O-neg was being pushed into the patient in an attempt to replace everything that had pumped out of his heart and into his thoracic cavity. 20 minutes into this, the impossible happened— we achieved ROSC (the heart started beating on its own).
The patient was taken directly to an operating room where the hole was definitively repaired and bilateral chest drains were inserted to drain the blood filling his lungs (technically the pleural space). Somehow, his heart continued beating and after a couple of weeks on ITU, the patient was returned to the trauma ward awake and alert. Several weeks, some mild hypoxic brain injury, and a gnarly chest scar later and he walked off the ward with his dad, the man who carried him in.
#11 Made For Television
I work in the quality department for a large hospital system. I work a lot with the trauma doctors and this one takes the cake for me. We had a guy brought in who crashed his four-wheeler into a fence. One of the posts impaled him under the rib cage. You could see his lungs and heart exposed and working when he came into the trauma bay. Everyone kept wondering how he was alive. They were able to rebuild him a new rib cage and he walked out a few months later. There was actually a TV crew from the show “Trauma Life in the ER,” so the tape of it exists online somewhere…
#12 A Medical Marvel
I am not a doctor but when I around 23, I was stubborn and didn’t go to the doctors for feeling weak and numb all the time with some blackouts. I brushed it off until I literally couldn’t get up to walk to the bathroom. Thinking it was just a cold or flu, when I finally made it to the ER, my blood count was at 3. A regular blood count is around 14. The doctor said he didn’t know how I was alive still.
#13 Misleading Video Games
During my early years in medical school, I saw a surgery conducted on a policeman who had a bullet go through his skull and brain. With my experience in games and movies, I always assumed a headshot was instant death, but that man survived it and I was in shock at how that was possible. Turns out, in many cases, a headshot can be survived.
#14 Gut Of Steel
I was puking for three days straight before going into urgent care. I wasn’t even going to go in, but my family said I looked awful and I eventually relented. They said I had appendicitis. Due to a mix-up, I didn’t get operated on for over a day later. When they went in, my appendix was gangrenous and had basically disintegrated.
Turns out, it had ruptured days ago. Normally, this floods your body with toxins and you die, but apparently, my colon was positioned in such a way that it blocked that from happening. I was in the hospital for another week before my digestive system restarted and had to have bile pumped out of my stomach. All in all though, not a terrible experience.
#15 Talk About Hardheaded
Not a doctor, but I’m a firefighter, so I see my fair share of trauma. About a year ago, we responded to a call that went out as an “individual who had a car fall on his face.” He was in his garage working underneath his car that was supported by scissor jacks. Something to note, the car didn’t have any tires on the front end where he was working.
One of the scissor jacks had slipped out from underneath the car, and the whole weight of the car landed directly onto the side of his head with no tires to stop the fall. We got our rubber airbags out, lifted the car, pulled him out, and got him onto a stretcher. After taking 2,500 pounds of weight to the head, he somehow got out of it with a fractured orbital and a laceration on his cheek.
#16 Freak Accident
A doctor asked me this. I was asleep in the back of a pickup on the way back from a rugby tournament one night and we had a head-on with a tipsy driver. I went through the back of the cab, through the windscreen, hit and bounced off the other car and ended up maybe twenty meters from the accident. Multiple broken bones, compressed vertebrae, internal and head injuries. After multiple surgeries and a year in hospital, I walked out. At the first checkup, the surgeon, who I knew really well by then, said exactly this: “Seriously, how the heck did you survive that?” My unvoiced response was, “‘Sometimes I wish I hadn’t… I was the lucky one.”
#17 Milking Life
An elderly lady had a massive brain hemorrhage. She was transferred to terminal care to the health center in-patient ward where I was working as the doctor. Her prognosis was that she would die at any moment. There was no treatment—she was comatose, but breathing spontaneously through a tracheotomy tube.
A week passed with no medications, no food, no fluids; but she was still alive. Then she began to stir… She became conscious. Delirious, but conscious. So we started her on I.V. fluids, the appropriate medications, and eventually physiotherapy. After a few months, she moved into the local nursing home where she lived for a few years. She had profound dementia but was able to move.
I wonder if the air-moisturizing device in the room (because of the tracheotomy) kept her hydrated because a healthy person would generally not survive a week without fluids.
#18 From Negative To Positive
I’m a researcher rather than a doctor, but during my undergrad, my anatomy tutor told us of an interesting case study. A woman in the same department had been in a car accident after going a considerable speed in her car. The seatbelt failed to lock and her face flew into the steering wheel. Her mouth, nose, cheekbones, and forehead were shattered, yet she suffered no brain damage. Apparently, the front of her face acted as a crumple zone and the fact her skull shattered meant the cranial swelling didn’t cause any damage because the brain had more space to swell into.
She needed significant reconstructive surgery, but a year later, she and my tutor teamed up in a research project. They used her case as the basis for looking into new ways to treat severe head injuries and developed new treatment protocols depending on where the skull had taken damage. They basically found out that, if you’re going to have a head injury, try and get hit in the face and not the temples because you’re much more likely to survive.
#19 Wonder Woman
This happened to my grandma-in-law. She was in her early 80s and on blood thinners when she took a nasty fall and hit her head. Quite a common injury, unfortunately. She was admitted to the hospital. The amazing part is that for three days, her condition worsened and the signs that she had a brain hemorrhage went unnoticed. That is until she became unresponsive… then we had all the bells and whistles.
She was airlifted to a larger hospital and I spent the day preparing my family for the worst. The bleeding had gone unchecked for a long time and if she did survive, we prepared for her to be different. That wonder woman woke up a few hours after surgery with zero impairment, memory intact right up to hospital admission. It was an amazing recovery that we’re all very grateful for.
#20 Missed Shots
I had a patient that was shot nine times, with three bullets to the head. He didn’t call an ambulance, he brought himself to the emergency department. And by that, I mean he DROVE himself to the emergency department. The three bullets in his head somehow didn’t enter the cranium, so his brain was just fine. One of them entered his cheek and went underneath the skin to swing all the way around to the back of his head. He was discharged the same day.
#21 The Human Kebab
This is a story about my dad’s best friend, or as he’s more commonly known, the human kebab. So this guy decides to take his dogs out on a walk on a particularly cold Scotland morning and on his way out, he slips on some ice. Unfortunately, he lands on a metal pole that is being used to hold up flowers or something.
The pole goes in through his side just under the ribcage. After being rushed to the hospital, the doctors concluded that the pole had missed all vital organs, veins, and arteries. They basically just had to pull it out. This all happened many years before I was born but it still absolutely blows my mind.
#22 Saved By Glasses
In gym class, back in high school, we were playing indoor field hockey. We were supposed to have been using foam or soft plastic equipment for safety. Someone grabbed the regulation grade field hockey ball by mistake. Regular balls are solid plastic, maybe with a cork or rubber center.
I ended up taking a slap shot to the side of my head behind my eye but in front of my temple at maybe a meter away TOPS from a kid that played ice hockey at just under national level.
My glasses exploded into many pieces. The leg fell off, the frames snapped at different spots, the lens shattered, and I got a mild concussion. The doctor said if I wasn’t wearing glasses and took that full force, it would’ve shattered my eye socket and may have even ended me by hitting my temple.
#23 Avoiding Death
Aimo Koivunen, a scout in the continuation-war in Finland back in 1944, was ambushed by Soviets. He tried to retreat to the Finnish lines, but he was getting shot multiple times. He made it out alive but started to feel tired, so he took 30 pills of pervitin. He had gone crazy from it.
In the morning, he hit a landmine and lied in the snow for a week. After that, he skied 400 km back to the Finnish lines, surviving on one bird that he caught and a few tree leafs. When he got to the hospital, his heart rate was 200 per minute and had lost 33 kg of weight. He died in 1989, from natural causes.
#24 Nutrition Comes First
Not yet a doctor, but I work as a paramedic in soccer events. Being from Argentina, it can be pretty freaking intense. There was this one time when we were at the stadium with my colleagues and three guys were carrying a fourth guy, covered in blood and totally unconscious. His pulse rate was berserk and we got kind of worried.
While we started strapping him to the stretcher, I asked the other dudes what had happened, and they told me: “He fainted and fell down the stairs.” We rushed him to the ambulance and within the first 10 minutes, the guy WALKED OUT AND ASKED FOR A SANDWICH.
#25 Hanging In There
My husband was the patient. His doctor even wrote him a letter congratulating him on his recovery. He was jogging and had a heart attack, which caused him to collapse on the side of the road. A couple found him and called an ambulance. He then arrested twice on the way to the hospital and had a balloon pump inserted on arrival, with emergency surgery to replace a heart valve just 12 hours later. To make matters even worse, he then had secondary complications and ended up in the hospital for three months with a nasogastric tube.
#26 A Second Chance
I’m the patient. At two and a half years old, I had a stroke. I was in a coma for about eight days. None of the doctors could believe it because I guess it’s unusual for someone to have a stroke that young. Before I woke up, a doctor even told my parents to prepare for my death as I wouldn’t make it.
Well, I still had brain activity. I reacted to my parents touching me and talking to me (not physically, but they could tell by my brain activity). Eventually, I opened my eyes and very slowly progressed to moving. I had to relearn how to walk and talk, as part of my brain had died. Surprisingly, I really don’t have any side effects. I’m really lucky.
#27 Defying Age
Not a doctor, but my dad is one. My uncle who turns 89 soon is one of his patients and he came in one day complaining that he was feeling dizzy. He even fell down the stairs once. So my dad ran some tests on him and during one of them, he just flatlines. He casually tells my dad that he isn’t feeling too great. He was literally making casual conversation while his heart wasn’t beating. What the heck.
#28 Heart Problems
While being investigated for Marfan’s they discovered a PDA. I was 12 and had no symptoms except mild tiredness after exercise. I had surgery two weeks after the diagnosis. I was also exceptionally anemic at the same time. They had no idea how as I ate a healthy diet. Anemic with a dodgy heart and a family history of hemochromatosis (excess iron).
Then, a decade later, it was discovered I had valve regurgitation in my heart, plus a bundle branch block. This was only discovered because I had pneumonia. Then, another murmur was discovered this year because my echo records were missing and my GP wanted to have a listen so I got them redone. I suspect if I see a GP for a flu shot they’ll discover I’ve had three heart attacks or something.
#29 Angel On Earth
Psych patients definitely win this one. This schizophrenic woman thought she was an angel and had wings. She went off of her meds and tried jumping out of the 4th-floor balcony. Half her bones were shattered, her skull and jaw were fractured (which had to be wired), but she miraculously survived. All her words come out weird and there are scars all over her body, but she’s alive. She still thinks she’s an angel.
#30 Two Mindboggling Cases
I had a carotid blowout following free flap reconstruction in an oral cancer case. The patient had a post-blowout Hb of 30. No idea how she got away with it. Also, when working at a military hospital, there was a guy whose parachute didn’t open—he ended up with just a fractured cheekbone? Like… what? Some people just have all the luck.
#31 Sharp Objects
This guy comes in for intentional foreign body ingestion. He swallowed a sharp object, about a three-inch blade, and it was now lodged in his stomach. The gastroenterology team got photos of it, prepped him, and somehow removed it. While he’s on a 24-hour watch to make sure he doesn’t do it again, he managed to get his hands on a pen someone from the GI team left in his room and swallowed that too. After it was taken out, we had to basically leave all sharp, pointy things, and swallowable items with the security guard before we could go into the room.
#32 Full Recovery
I had a guy who took a 10-inch long metal pipe right between the eyes. When we came in the pipe was sticking about four inches out of his face. He was fully conscious and could move both eyes (a little pale, though). When we got the images the tip of the pipe was about three millimeters from entering his brainstem. Dude made a full recovery.
#33 A True Fighter
During my internship, I was working in the free clinic and a man named D came in holding his own small intestine like a baby. As I was the only doctor in the clinic, I was pretty freaked out. Anyway, I paged trauma right away, but his organs were outside his body for too long and he became septic. I still find it amazing the D was able to walk nearly six miles holding his intestine. That’s incredible.
#34 A Rude Awakening
I’m no doctor, but I was involved in a car accident where I fractured my neck and spine. I believe they were the C6 and C7 vertebrae in my neck and the L5 and L6 in my spine. I also had a collapsed lung, a broken rib, and my left patella was fractured in half. I was sleeping on the passenger side when the accident occurred and I didn’t have a seat belt on because we were parked when I fell asleep.
I woke up in the hospital with a neck brace on and about 10 doctors and nurses holding me down telling me that I had gotten into an accident. I was freaking out because I genuinely thought I had been kidnapped. Anyway, the doctor who was treating me told me that he was amazed that I survived and called it a miracle.
#35 Left Unscathed
Not a doctor, but my mom is. She told me about a family of four (the mother was like 30 weeks pregnant) that got rear-ended by a semi-truck going 100 kilometers an hour into the back of another semi-truck. Their car had to be cut to get the two kids out. Literally, the entire family didn’t have a scratch. The mom and baby weren’t even affected (except for stress). The dad had a bruise on his arm, and both kids in the back were 100% fine.
#36 Fall And Get Back Up
Back in medical school, I was called to the trauma bay for an incoming 40-year-old man who was rock climbing and fell 30 feet onto his head. I got prepped for a bloodbath and we discussed how we were going to manage a shattered skull. However, when the guy came in, he was talking just fine. All he complained about was a slight headache. His head hit the rocks tangentially and it just bounced off, taking the skin with it. His scalp was peeled off his skull (so we just stapled it back in to place) but he was otherwise fine. He had a 30 -foot fall onto his head and not even a bone was broken.
#37 A Whole Ordeal
Last December, I got bacterial meningitis and sepsis. My now-husband brought me to the local ER because after lying in bed all day, I had developed weird purple spots all over my arms and legs. The ER nurse who admitted me recognized the spots as a sign of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation disorder (DIC).
I was immediately given an external jugular central line (IV in my neck) and the staff brought out the really heavy-duty antibiotics. I ended up staying six nights in the ICU and another 6 nights on the main floor. I lost a ton of weight and muscle mass almost had to have a toe amputated, and needed a cane to walk for several weeks.
But the week after I was released, my partner started feeling sick and we went back to the same hospital ER just to make sure he didn’t have the same thing I did. The doctor that day was the same one who had given me the neck IV and spent more time staring at me in sheer disbelief than talking to my partner about his symptoms!
#38 Just A Few Stitches
I was working in the emergency room at the local red cross in Mexico when all of a sudden a guy came in with a soaked blood cloth on his throat. His shirt was also all bloody. Anyway, he took the cloth off and there it was, a HUGE hole in the middle of his throat. You could see inside the man but he was conscient and responsive with little to no pain.
Turns out, he was carrying a metal desk onto his truck and when he tried to rise it, one of the drawers opened and the edge of it hit him. Fortunately, the desk didn’t hit anything vital, so we ended up stitching the guy from inside-out. We gave him some painkillers and he went home.
#39 Good Timing?
Not a doctor myself, but a radiologist did tell me the story. He had a patient come in to get a CAT scan who had been shot something like 40 times; gang-related stuff. The guy was communicative when he came and lived through the experience. I guess nothing vital was hit. Not sure if it was just luck or the fact he got to an excellent trauma center in the nick of time.
#40 A Walking Corpse
Not a doctor, but a friend’s story. He’d been feeling terrible for a long time, so he went to the doctor. The doctor ordered a bunch of rush blood tests. The lab tech called the doctor and yelled at him. “Why the heck did you make us rush these tests?” The doctor was confused. The lab tech continued: “The guy is clearly dead, so what’s the rush?” The doctor called him, told him to NOT DRIVE but to get himself to emergency ASAP. The guy was a type 1 diabetic, and he hadn’t realized it until way later in life. Apparently, his bloodwork suggested he was a corpse rather than a living person. He’s still doing fine.
#41 Goodbye, Eye
Surgical intern year. A guy came in from a hang gliding accident where he fell when a strong gust of wind blew him out of the sky. Luckily, he fell into a grove of trees. He presented to the trauma bay with a stick coming out of his eye, saying he couldn’t see out of it. Initially, we were impressed that he survived a 100-foot fall from the sky, but then we got the CT scan. Turned out, the stick actually went through his eye, across his skull, and almost to the other side (about 7.5 inches inside his head). He amazingly was still conscious and talking before he underwent a 15-hour-long surgery involving ENT, neurosurgery, and ophthalmology. Aside from losing the one eye, he made a full recovery.
#42 Surviving Another Birthday
We were called for a vehicle rollover. The car was totally wrecked. You could only recognize the Chevrolet logo on the back. I immediately assumed I would find bodies and maybe someone still alive with some body part missing. The driver and her two passengers were next to the car, sitting in the grass, joking about one of them’s birthday being on the same day and how she almost didn’t make it to 38.
#43 A Narrow Miss
My uncle was riding on his motorcycle, tipsy, on his way home when he crashed onto a van. When the police saw the wreck, they thought that the rider was dead. My uncle told the cops that he was the rider of that motorcycle and they were surprised to see him unscathed. He wasn’t wearing any riding gear. No helmet, only flip flops, a tank top, and shorts.
#44 Benny, The Man
Hospice RN here. This one’s about my man Benny. The guy was a 1960s race car driver. He had Hollywood looks and even at the nursing home, everyone loved him, especially the girls. The guy was unresponsive for three days. I had him on only morphine. The guy had not eaten or had a bowel movement in a week. I got a call one day and I figured it was time to go say goodbye to Benny. Nope! Benny is up, drinking Mountain Dew, and inviting everyone to his funeral while walking around the facility. Benny went on another three months. You are the man Benny.
#45 Listen To The Experts
This comes from my buddy who worked in the ER. A fella walks in complaining of a headache after a night out partying. An MRI and some poking around showed he had a punctured lung and his neck was broken. Apparently, during his night of revelry, he fell a significant distance and impaled himself on a wrought iron fence. The sudden stop had snapped his neck. We took him in for emergency surgery. The dude was trying to fight this, complaining that he wouldn’t be able to graduate if he didn’t attend his finals. The nurse told him he’d be dead if they didn’t get him in right away.
#46 Risky River Tubing
Tubing on the lake. I was leaning too far forward, and when the boat slowed a little, I fell over the front. The rope wrapped around my neck and I was dragged by the boat. Luckily, we always have a spotter and the boat stopped before I sucked in too much water. After some cream for the rope burn around my neck and X-rays to make sure nothing was broken. I was fine. I was in high school at the time and the looks I got for the next couple of weeks were the worst part of the whole ordeal.
#47 Stuck Forever
I’m not a doctor but my neighbor is an ER nurse. They received a guy a couple of months ago that was brought in with seven or eight sharp objects in his chest, with most of them piercing his heart. He had a psychological disorder and he was off his meds. The 911 call involved the guy’s sister screaming that he was hurting himself. He lived because he never pulled the knives out.
#48 My Lucky Stars
I rolled my car three times going about 80 mph in my Mini Cooper. A giant rock came through the sunroof and knocked me out. I woke up in the hospital. The paramedic said he thought for sure I was dead when he pulled up on the wreck. 25 staples in my head and a brain injury later, I’m pretty much okay. I thank my lucky stars.
#49 The Thunderclap
A guy came in for what he thought was a headache that manifested while at the bus stop. It was like a thunderclap sensation and he lost vision in his right eye. Turns out, someone came behind him and put a bullet in his skull. For some reason, the bullet was stuck in his eyeball. Otherwise, he was normal.
Not sure how he never noticed what was happening to him.
#50 Barely A Scratch
My brother, when he was a child, was hit by a speeding Range Rover. He bounced off the bonnet, went over the top and landed in the road. He didn’t break a single bone. He barely had a scratch on him.