The likelihood of beating the odds is usually slim to none. Even so, some instances thwart logic and are just short of miracles. Here, Redditors share their unbelievable stories of people who seemingly had a date with doom but defied their chances and somehow survived. These fantastic tales will indeed boggle the mind and make one realize there is no forgoing fate.
1. Falling Down On The Job
We had a young man in his early 20s who was an electrician working on the roof of a three-level new home build. His boss didn’t supply harnessing—and a nightmare ensued.
He fell onto a concrete pad below. He broke every bone in his face, both wrists and one forearm. I didn’t meet him until three days later in the orthopedic ward, where the nurses were calling him “the boy who lived”. He should not have survived, but by some miracle, he did.
2. Septic Shutdown
My wife, who was 47 years old and in great shape, was complaining of stomach cramps. Diverticulitis had narrowed her colon, so her poop was nothing more than a thin ribbon. She didn't discuss this with her primary care physician. Two days before Christmas, she came home and said she thought she had the flu and just wanted to sleep.
When she was changing, I noticed her swollen belly. Her normal washboard stomach looked like she was five months pregnant. I took her to the ER. The ER was backed up, and "possible flu" was at the bottom of the triage list. The nurse kept asking, "How many months pregnant?" My wife had a full hysterectomy, so that was not possible and could not explain the rapid change to her belly.
Fourteen hours passed, and we finally got X-rays. The truth was far more horrifying than anyone realized. The radiologist noted "full of air", a ruptured colon, and "doesn't feel well". My wife was fully septic.
The ascending colon was removed, and an ileostomy was fitted. Sepsis shut down everything, and her heart kept pumping. She coded numerous times in recovery. Hospital folks told her she was a Christmas miracle. Her surgeon admitted, "You're the only one who survived a total septic shutdown".
3. Hard To Stomach
I was doing my internship in a local hospital. There are multiple stories about unlikely survival, but there's one that takes the cake.
A 31-year-old man was gunned down, then dropped at the local ER by the same guys who blasted him. In total, he had ten wounds across his thorax, abdomen, pelvis, and legs. The projectiles went through almost every single organ and also broke a femur and a tibia.
He was in hypovolemic shock and needed emergency surgery and blood transfusions. He spent three months in the ICU and was then placed on the surgery floor of the hospital. He had more than 25 surgical interventions from three different teams and over 50 bags of blood.
At one point, one of the teams realized they couldn't completely close his abdomen after one particular surgery and decided to leave his abdomen open. Several operations later, he developed a hostile abdomen, where the abdominal wall is scarred, and everything inside is topped up with fibrous tissue, to the point that going in for yet another surgery is a nightmare experience. Oh, but that wasn't all.
He also had multiple infections, both nosocomial and from his digestive tract. One slug entered through his abdomen, pierced his behind, and exited through one of his rear cheeks. During the healing process, the wound became a fistula that continuously dripped pus and mucus riddled with bacteria in and out of the abdominal cavity to the point he fell into septic shock twice.
Regular antibiotics weren't doing their job anymore, so Infectiology had to be called in regularly as he needed a strong antibiotic cocktail. Although he was still not completely out of the woods, at least the surgeons were able to close his abdomen successfully, his infection was currently under control, and his legs were finally healing properly.
If the local gangs don't invade the hospital and off him before he's discharged—because it almost happened a month into his stay—he’ll probably live.
4. This Premie Captured My Heart
I was a NICU nurse. We had a baby who was born with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. It was a defect that, if not treated, would lead to them to losing their life. The baby was discharged home. The mom took the baby to the pediatrician the next day because she felt like something was wrong. The pediatrician blew her off and said they would follow up in a week.
The next day baby came into the NICU, basically DOA. There was a duct in the heart that had kept her alive her first days, but on the second day, the duct closed, and her little body went into shock. All babies have this duct that closes after a few days, and if their heart is healthy, all is well, but some defects need the duct to stay open to stay alive.
Her defect was lethal without a patent duct. I walked into the room that morning, and the room was trashed. The baby was swollen and didn’t even look like a baby, with every medication imaginable being pumped into her body. You could barely even see that there was a baby with all the machines hooked up to her keeping her alive.
Her little body was shutting down. She was sick for a very long time, and doctors told the mom she would never walk, talk, or live a normal life. She proved them wrong.
This little baby is three years old now and visited me yesterday. She's beautiful, living a full life, walking and talking with only a scar on her chest as a reminder of her first few months of life. The scar is a reminder that her heart is now perfect.
5. He Was Going To Be Roadkill
My husband was hit by a car going 40mph and thrown roughly 20 feet forwards. The first I knew of it was a ring at my doorbell where a person said, “I’m with the ambulance and have your husband in the back”. He’d forgotten his mobile phone and asked the ambulance to take a detour to let me know what was going on. I jumped in the back, and he was a mess.
He had a bleeding head injury and road burn on every possible part of him—on his hands, face, front and back of arms and legs, his rear, and his stomach. He was strapped down to the gurney in a neck support. He was rushed into an MRI because they were concerned about the head injury. There was nothing. He had an MRI of his abdomen to check for internal bleeding. Again, nothing.
He had a full body X-ray done, and there was not a bone broken on his body. He needed stitches, and the doctor who saw him just literally said he couldn’t believe he wasn’t more injured. The only thing he could think of was that he must have gone like a rag doll when he was hit, and the lack of tensing saved him from more severe injury. All his scuffs healed up, and he was absolutely fine.
6. An Abrupt Decision Saved My Wife
My wife was 34 weeks pregnant and went into the hospital for a routine appointment. She said she hadn't felt the baby move much recently but figured it was probably tired and thought nothing of it. The doctor did an ultrasound and made a disturbing discovery.
He discovered placental abruption. The baby had to come out immediately by caesarian, or the baby and my wife wouldn’t make it. If my wife hadn't mentioned it in passing, she and my son probably wouldn't be here.
7. Shades Of Gray
A guy collapsed in the garden of the bar I worked in. He hadn't been a customer, and as it was a foul day, we had no idea he was out there until a lady passing the pub spotted him and told us. I never ran so fast in my life.
He was entirely unresponsive to verbal, physical, and pain stimuli. He had aspirated vomit; I could hear it bubbling as he choked on it. When I got him on his side and got his mouth open, an absolute cascade of blood and barf hit me.
He'd bitten his tongue pretty much off from what I could see. His pulse was erratic, and I could hear him still choking. His pupils were dilated and not responding. He stopped breathing and was turning gray in front of my eyes. I was doing CPR for about five minutes until the ambulance came while he got grayer.
I was 100% convinced I was beating a goner. They took him away. I threw up, cried, threw my clothes away, and borrowed stuff from my boss to get home. I was shaking and resigned myself to never knowing what had happened, as he obviously couldn't give me a name, and he had no ID on him.
A month went by, and in walked a dude nobody knew. He was looking for the landlady. They got her. Then she phoned me. I walked in. IT WAS THE GUY. He'd been having a bad time and wound up overindulging on smack and coke. He couldn't remember a thing, and all the hospital had been able to tell him was where he had been found.
He was on a ventilator for at least a week and was technically gone twice. He brought me flowers, and I ugly cried for most of the day. I was convinced he was gone.
8. More Than Just A Headache
About a week before Valentine’s Day, my mom started complaining of a headache. It wasn't out of the ordinary because my mom got bad headaches for as long as I could remember. She was a tough lady and just always pushed through them. However, this one was different. She was sensitive to light and didn't really have an appetite.
This headache went on for about two days before she decided to go to the ER. The doctor at the ER told her she just had a head cold and prescribed some OTC medicine, which happened to be Mucinex. We took my mom back home and gave her the meds the doctor told us to. A day later, she started getting worse.
The pain in her head was so bad that she just wanted to lay in bed with the room completely dark. We took her back to the ER, and she saw the same ER doctor again. Once again, he told her she just had a severe head cold. He did not run any scans or tests. So again, we took her back home. She was still walking on her own and was talking normally.
Another day or so went by, and she still was not getting any better. In fact, she was consistently getting worse and worse. Finally, we talked her into going back to the ER because this whole situation was scaring us. This time we saw a different doctor. When he walked into the room and saw how my mom looked and how much pain she was in, he immediately wanted her to do a CT scan.
He told us she had a burst brain aneurysm deep in her brain and that her brain was bleeding on the inside. I'll never forget the look on this doctor’s face. He was pale as a ghost because he said he had never seen or heard of anyone living with a burst brain aneurysm. He couldn't believe she was up, walking around, and still talking. He told us she should no longer be alive.
We were in shock. My mother had been dealing with this FOR A WHOLE WEEK. The doctor and nurses prepared my mom to be taken by helicopter to see one of the best brain surgeons in the state and have immediate brain surgery. However, when they got there, she ended up having a massive stroke, which was what they were trying to avoid from happening. T
he stroke affected her vocal cords and the right side of her body. She lived through all of that and still hadn’t had her brain surgery. She finally made it through the eight-hour surgery beautifully. The doctor said it couldn't have gone any better. My mother had to be in ICU for over a month. It was painful to see her in that state, but at least she survived.
After the ICU, she went to two different rehab facilities and fought hard to learn to walk again, but she is alive and well.
9. Blood Is Thicker Than Water
We had a guy come into the ER because he was feeling “kind of dizzy and out of breath”. They ordered a standard array of labs, and when we drew his blood, we noticed something extremely worrying.
His blood seemed really thin and watery. That was because he had a 2.7 hemoglobin. Hemoglobin values measure “how much blood is in your blood” and, therefore, how much oxygen can be carried throughout your body.
A normal hemoglobin reading is roughly 12–16, depending on age and gender. Below ten is where they start considering the possibility of transfusion, and below eight is considered “critical”. A 2.7 should no longer be alive, yet this man was both walking and conscious when he came in.
He even argued about being admitted overnight. We couldn’t even get his sample to run at first. We had to mess with the sensors for it to register. He survived and was transferred to another facility after transfusing a few units.
10. Pump Up The Spam
I am a hematologist. I had a 38-year-old patient who presented with a swollen abdomen, extreme fatigue, peripheral edema, and multiple enlarged lymph nodes. He looked like he was done for: a huge purple potato with toothpicks for limbs and inflated gloves for hands. He didn’t look human at all. After a lymph node biopsy, the diagnosis came.
He had Hodgkin's Lymphoma (HL). HL is one of the few curable diseases if treated correctly. It usually takes six to eight rounds of chemotherapy. However, his subtype was rather aggressive and with a poor prognosis, so his chances were grim, to say the least. One course of chemo takes about a month.
Because he saw his status not improving after two weeks—after only half a round—he wanted to be discharged to "die in his bed in his home". So, he called his friend to pick him up, and off they went. One month later, a healthy-looking man—fit and groomed—approached me and told me he'd like to continue his chemotherapy because he was feeling great.
I had no idea who I was talking to until he introduced himself as my HL patient. My jaw dropped to the floor, and I rushed to schedule his next rounds of chemo. I asked him what changed his mind about staying, and he told me that on the way home—after about an hour on the road—he had a weird appetite, so he asked his friend to pick up about a dozen cans of Spam.
He devoured them on the way home. Seeing that, his friend told him when they got home, "Well, if you can cram that in your stomach, I'm pretty sure you can take at least two more rounds of chemo". So there he was—the living proof that Spam changes lives.
At the end of his final round of chemo, he had a complete response (CR). A CR that lasts to this day—five years later—is pretty much equivalent to "cured" in his case.
11. Cardiac Cocktail Of Doom
I was an EMT-B working for a county emergency system and worked with another EMT-B in a crew of two. We received a call for a 40-something male having difficulty breathing and some chest pain. Once we arrived at the scene and walked into the door to his kitchen, he was sitting in a tripod position at the kitchen table about 15 feet from us.
He was audibly wheezing and said it was really hard for him to breathe. We assisted him onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, gave the patient oxygen, and placed him on a 12-lead ECG, BP cuff, and pulse oximeter. We transmitted it to the nearby hospital and radioed dispatch to try and have a paramedic unit meet us en route.
They couldn’t, so we made it to the hospital in about five to 10 minutes. When we transferred him from our stretcher to the hospital bed, the worst happened. He went into cardiac arrest.
After the first round of CPR and cardiac meds, they were able to sustain a pulse. After a few hours of running other calls, we were at the same hospital, and the doctor said that the patient had a pulmonary embolism, widowmaker STEMI, and stroke on top of him coding. As far as I know, he survived.
12. After Two Strikes, I Was Almost Out
A couple of months ago, I had a serious skydiving accident in which neither my primary nor reserve parachute opened properly. The reserve didn’t even open halfway. I ended up with a shattered femur, an open book pelvis, a burst fracture on my back, and some broken ribs. I will not be skydiving again, but I will be able to walk.
My wife was a flight nurse, and her fellow co-workers saved my life on the helicopter.
13. Back In The Saddle
My dad got hit by a train while on his bicycle. The incident report said it was going 80mph. When we got to the hospital on the first day, the doctors basically told us to prepare for the end. His blood pressure was dropping like crazy, but they cut a hole in his stomach, and that seemed to stabilize things for the first night.
He woke up a few weeks later and had broken all his ribs on the right, some on the left, both collar bones, his right arm, collapsed both lungs, and he had a severe brain injury. After he woke up in the ICU, he was acting pretty crazy. The doctors told us he would never return to his job or regain the level of intelligence he had pre-accident.
Eventually, he left the ICU, went to the general ward, and then to two rehabs. He left the second rehab early and went back to his job as a VP, although his speech was still slightly impaired at the time. Then, he bought a new bike. As of this writing, he seems completely normal. Whatever the first responders did on that first day probably ensured that he got to live.
14. They Had Me Seeing Red
Last year, I walked into the doctor’s office for a checkup and found that I had pretty much no red blood cells. The doctor kept me in the room for an hour, asking me questions, and kept wondering how I had managed to walk to the office alone, much less how I was standing in front of her and was not collapsed on the floor.
Apparently, I’d had SEVERE anemia for about five or so years and was just living with it. Coincidently, the year prior, my dog was in a similar place. We went to the vet because she was bleeding everywhere and discovered her white blood cell count was literally zero. I don’t know how either of us is alive right now, but we're both happy to still be here.
15. She Survived A Slicing
A lady came into the emergency department with her throat slit. She was, unfortunately, horrifyingly mistreated by her husband. The vile man had really done a number on her. The wound was so horrific and deep that it still baffles everyone how she survived. But that wasn't the craziest part.
Not only did she survive, but she was also conscious the entire time! Thanks to the quick actions of the paramedics, they were able to protect her airway and place a tracheostomy. Unfortunately, she was left with life-changing injuries, was unable to eat, and was completely unable to talk.
16. Breathing A Sigh Of Relief
I was a phlebotomist during COVID. I watched six people lose their lives in one single weekend in my ICU mornings. There was one guy left. For two months, I drew his blood and his wife’s—who was a non-ICU COVID patient—for a month. I watched him get intubated, extubated, and reintubated. I remember telling his spouse whatever I could that wouldn't upset her.
While he was out, I would talk to him and tell him about his wife, how nice and wonderful she was, and how he had to keep going cause she really missed him. Everyone thought that, just like the rest, he wasn’t going to make it. He coded twice, at least during my shift, and he was only extubated for a few days because he was really struggling.
One day I came in after a weekend off, and he wasn’t there. I panicked and was told he was moved to the first floor. When I saw him, he was sitting up in bed and chatting with me after two weeks. I told him about his wife and anything he asked that I was allowed to tell him. He walked out of the hospital on his own. We all couldn’t believe he lived.
17. A Few Pints Preserved Him
The EMTs had picked up an extremely inebriated native Alaskan guy wandering around in -30 temperatures. He was in shorts and a T-shirt. He had been wandering for hours and hours and had severe hyperthermia. He should have been a popsicle.
They did a blood alcohol test, and he was three times the limit that it takes to perish. They believed that the only reason he didn’t freeze was the booze acted like antifreeze and stopped his flesh from fully freezing.
18. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try And Try Again
I was a fireman. I responded to a shady hotel a town over for a man throwing up. Law enforcement passed us on the way, and we thought nothing of it because it was a shady area. We got to the scene, and officers said the guy wasn’t breathing. My officer and I started compressions while the ambulance got there. The paramedics expected a man throwing up, but all the radios were down.
They had NO idea what they were responding to. The ambulance crew pumped this guy full of meds and got an auto-CPR machine on him. The standard procedure was 30 minutes of on-scene CPR. However, the clock was set late because we couldn't contact dispatch, so it ended up being around 45 minutes of CPR with no resuscitation.
As we were loading this guy into the ambulance, we found out he had a lower GI bleed and had been bleeding excessively out of his rear. Prior to getting this patient into the back of the ambulance, the medics put on a 12-lead ECG. The graph showed the patient had a shockable pulse in the back of the ambulance. The medic decided “what the heck” and “might as well try”.
The medics turned off the auto-CPR, shocked the patient, and to all of our bewilderment, the graph showed an extremely weak pulse. The medic put his finger against the patient's neck and said he could feel it. The pulse became stronger and stronger. The medics gave him nasal Narcan, and he started breathing on his own.
19. I Couldn’t Believe My Eyes
I was an eye doctor. I had an ex-law enforcement officer come in for an examination. I noticed the left side of his face was sort of gnarly. He took off his hat and had a rather sizeable crater missing from the side of his skull. He proceeded to tell me a chilling story.
He'd been blasted in the chest, and the projectile fragmented off his vest. One of the fragments went through his cheek, left eye, and brain and then exited his skull, taking a chunk of bone with it. I couldn’t wrap my head around it until I examined his retinas.
Sure enough, there was an entrance wound with a perfectly round scar, a literal trail through the vitreous, and a perfectly round exit wound. The eye was in otherwise perfect shape. The guy got a slug through his face, eyes, and brain and survived it.
20. In Need Of More Stress
I was a 27-year-old healthy male. I walked into the ER complaining of light-headedness and chills while COVID positive—and stopped living an hour later in triage.
What they quickly discovered was that I was in shock, had renal and liver failure, my blood pressure MAP was 43, my O2 SAT was 80%, and I was severely hypoglycemic. What actually put me on the floor, though, was hyperkalemia (super high blood potassium), which triggered a cardiac arrest.
After about 20 minutes of CPR, they brought me back, put me on a ventilator, dialysis, and three blood pressors, and then promptly forgot to tell my wife that anything had happened.
Over the next three hours, my blood pressure refused to increase, and they decided to medivac me to Mass General so that they could put me on ECMO, a type of life support that oxygenates and pumps blood for you. It's considered a last resort, and the chances of coming off ECMO alive are 50/50 at best.
When I got to MGH, they determined that I didn't need ECMO yet, and tried to keep me stable enough to avoid it. In what was described in the doctors' notes as "a miraculous overnight turnaround," I recovered enough to be taken off the ventilator, off the blood pressors, and out of the coma the next day. That's when the doctors made a stunning realization.
We discovered that I have a rare genetic condition called Addison's Disease, in which my body doesn't produce cortisol. It turns out cortisol—known as the “stress hormone”—is a bit of an undersell; it performs critical self-regulating functions in nearly all body systems.
When I entered the ER, I was in a condition known as an “adrenal crisis”, where my body needed more cortisol than it had to spare, so systems started shutting down because of the lack. Thankfully, part of the care given prior to my Medflight included stress-dose steroids, one of which was hydrocortisone—synthetic cortisol.
Apparently, 100mg of the one thing your body REALLY NEEDS is enough to turn you into a case study. My story is now being used as a teaching case at Mass General as a way to educate more people about Addison's Disease.
21. Hit Me One More Time
A patient had a severe cardiac arrest, also known as a STEMI. He was no longer alive and on the cath lab table. He had been defibrillated 48 times with no luck. We said we would do one more and then call it. On the 49th shock, miraculously, there was a sinus rhythm. It was unbelievable. The dude was playing golf two months later.
22. Free-Floating Fetus
I was a labor and delivery nurse and had a patient induced with Pitocin. She got her epidural, and everything was going great. She was a bigger lady, so keeping the baby on the monitor could be trying at times, but I was able to keep a decent reading. While I was in adjusting her meds, I noticed that there was a lot of artifact in the ultrasound, and the belly just didn’t look right.
I immediately called for the midwife and OB. The worst had happened. She had a uterine abruption. The baby was free floating in her abdomen, and the woman was actively bleeding. We did an emergency c-section immediately. From the time I saw the monitor go wonky to the time we had that baby out was about seven minutes. Luckily, both mom and baby survived.
23. Out Of Air
In my first year of residency, I had a 63-year-old male patient who came to the emergency department because he had “trouble with his breathing”. He had just walked two kilometers to the hospital.
This was in peak first wave COVID time, but the patient was noticed immediately because his oxygen saturation was 64%. A healthy adult should be >94%. Most people with a value of <80% are no longer alive or in the ICU on a ventilator.
I saw the patient after a few minutes and suspected COVID—for which he tested positive—but also diagnosed him with a massive myocardial infarction. I’m pretty sure he would have coded due to an arrhythmia if he had waited another hour or two to come to the hospital.
He was intubated, put on a ventilator, and had two new coronary stents within an hour. It took him two months to recover, but he survived.
24. A Real Heart Stopper
When I was a resident in the cardiac ICU, we had a guy come in who had had a coronary while driving. The problem was it was major, and he went into cardiac arrest—his heart completely stopped while he was driving. So, his car, of course, crashed.
By the miracle of a bystander performing CPR and medics who were very good at their job, this guy got his pulse back, made it to the hospital, eventually woke up, and in the end, walked out of the hospital. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen.
25. Jumped To The Wrong Conclusion
I was a firefighter/paramedic. The wildest thing I’ve seen someone survive was a BASE jump where the chute didn’t deploy. The wildest part was that I didn’t find out he had survived for about ten years.
One Halloween night at around 11:30 pm, we got dispatched to a person down near a popular BASE jumping area in my station's first due. There was no further information on the call, so we showed up to find a group of people huddled around another person.
Several of the people standing around had parachute rigs on, so we quickly clued into the fact that this was a fall from a significant height. When we reached the patient, they had already removed his rig, but he was lying there with open bilateral femur fractures. Both arms were badly deformed and obviously broken, and one of his eyes had popped out of its socket.
He had agonal respirations of about 8-10 BPM, diminished perfusion, and the pupil of the eye that was intact was unresponsive. His friends said they were standing at the top of the cliff, getting ready to jump, when this guy tripped and fell backward off the cliff. He fell about 400 feet onto the rocky outcroppings at the bottom and tumbled a bit further to where we found him.
This location was about 15 minutes off the main road, so we ordered a helicopter to transport him to the nearest trauma center. I intubated the guy, and we did our best to stabilize all the broken bones. Around that time, we got him all packaged up. The helicopter was arriving, so we handed him off to them, and they flew him to the local trauma center.
I followed up the next day with the nurses at the hospital, and he was still alive but basically had ruptured a few organs and was on life support. They expected the family to “pull the plug” later that day. Ten years later, I was doing a skills verifier course to renew my license, and the preceptor was giving a side class on how to remove a parachute from a downed skydiver without damaging the rig.
They’re VERY expensive and often get cut off haphazardly by first responders, even on minor injuries. So, we were talking about skydiving and people who have crashed and survived and crashed and lost their lives, and someone asked the guy about BASE jumping.
A conversation took place, and, eventually, the preceptor proclaimed no one had ever lost their life in the county BASE jumping. This was my moment. I piped in with an “Actshoeally”, and I went on to tell the story about the guy whose chute didn’t open. His response floored me.
He said, “He didn’t die. I know him. He still jumps with us". Suffice it to say my jaw is on the floor, I promptly sent a group text to all guys on my crew from that night, and they all were in disbelief too. Apparently, the guy made a full recovery even though it took several years of rehab, and he was back to jumping.
26. There Was A Helmet To Blame
A patient came in for a CT scan. He had been intubated by the Resus team. His motorcycle had smashed into a tree, and his helmet had dug into his head and caused a significant skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The anesthetist pulled up the gauze on his head so I could see his brain. The irony was that his helmet caused the damage, but—to be fair—he would have lost his head without the helmet.
27. Tums Wouldn’t Have Helped
A patient came in as a STEMI (acute heart attack). We took him to the cath lab for angioplasty and found he had a completely occluded left main stem, which supplies blood to about 70% of your heart, if not more. The patient didn't look particularly ill but was one of those "I thought it was just indigestion" people.
Their right coronary wasn't small, but it wasn't huge either. Most people who block their left main stem go into cardiac arrest and bite it.
28. A Lucky Coincidence
I was an operating room nurse. One day, I left my badge at home, and my boyfriend was bringing it to me. He was parked outside the hospital's back door, waiting for me. He called me and told me someone had just dumped someone out of a car at that door, and they were just lying on the ground.
The ER came and got them; later that night, they became my patient in the OR. When I saw her, I couldn't believe my eyes. The patient had necrotizing fasciitis down her whole leg and had tried to deal with the pain by injecting a little too much smack. Thankfully I had forgotten my badge that day, or who knows how long they would have been lying out there without any help.
29. The Shock Of His Life
A guy was working on a roof and a piece of gutter he was holding bumped a high voltage line that was supposed to be off. He was severely electrocuted. The hand holding the gutter was completely degloved, as were several spots on his torso. His whole body was covered in 2nd and 3rd-degree burns. Somehow he was not only alive but conscious.
However, his airway was burned and was swelling shut. Fortunately, the paramedic I was partnered with was an ace at intubation, got a tube placed in time, and we got him to the burn unit quickly. Last I heard, he had survived.
30. Too Much And Not Enough
I had some blood work done because I feared I might have misread the directions on one of my medications and had taken too much. Not a lot, but enough to throw my potassium levels out of whack. I got the results later that day, and they told me I needed to get to the ER ASAP.
My potassium was critically low. The doctor even told me he had never seen anyone with such a low level who was still alive.
31. Still Clot It
A few years back, I was a part of a clinical trial and had blood drawn about every two weeks. Everything seemed normal, except I was bruising more than usual. I didn’t think anything of it. Later that day, I got a call from the lab telling me that if I saw any more bruises pop up in the next 24 hours, I should go straight to the emergency room.
My blood work showed that I had absolutely no clotting factors at all. They canceled all bloodwork for a month, and somehow, my next routine blood draw came up fine, other than some routine anemia.
32. Never Give Up
I worked at a VA hospital. A 68-year-old male went into cardiac arrest, and Code Blue was called. Another second-year resident and I arrived on the scene with our interns and probably 20 medical students. Everyone got involved and had a chance to do CPR. Every medication in the crash cart was used.
After 60 minutes—much longer than a code would usually be run—we were showing off our knowledge and skills to our medical students. Seeing a weak pulseless rhythm, I decided to do a pericardiocentesis—draw fluid from the sac around the heart as a treatment for a possible tamponade. I removed about 20-25cc’s of clear fluid through a six-inch needle.
The other resident said to me, “That wasn’t enough to do anything”. He was so wrong. Immediately, we had a measurable blood pressure, and the patient was sent to the ICU.
Over a year later, I was caring for a very ill woman at University Hospital across the street. Her well-dressed, articulate father came by to visit her, and we got to talking. He said, “I was real sick at the VA about a year ago, and those doctors saved my life”. I realized it was the same man and was glad we hadn’t given up too soon.
33. He Was Left Half A Man
There was a patient on our floor who'd been shot. The dude was just a torso. There was so much trauma or infection from whatever happened to him that the surgeons amputated EVERYTHING from the mid-abdomen and down. He had a few surgical drains and tubes to take care of functions like urinating and defecating because those parts simply weren’t there.
34. She Was Working Her Guts Out
I lived in a pretty rural town. My mom was overworking herself and had worked a week straight with only about three hours of sleep a night. After years of letting work ruin her health habits, she got a hole in her intestinal tract. She went to the ER because she was feeling awful.
The doctor said, "Hmmm, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you have a hole in your intestine somewhere, but that's impossible. The pain alone would make it impossible for you to walk or move”. He released my mom with some pain medication which made her stool harder.
Another two weeks later, my mother was septic and was going to drop. She was trying to do her job when she felt she was going to collapse. She called her boss, told her she was leaving, and drove back to the ER, half passing out, half screaming in agony.
They couldn’t handle what they saw in the X-ray, so they sent her to Vancouver. While stool was leaking in my mom's body cavity, her body did this really unusual thing to survive. Some people's bodies make calcium to block off stuff; my mom's body made a bunch of scar tissue.
Her intestines, ovaries, and her body cavity all fused together in a bid to cut her other organs off from the infection. They pulled people out of retirement to see what her body had done. Nobody could believe she was fully septic for two weeks and kept working 18+ hours a day.
It took a while to get her stable, but every single specialist, nurse, and doctor who was familiar with her case couldn't believe she survived.
35. He Had A Face-Off
I was an X-ray technologist. A guy came into the emergency department who had attempted to take his life. He blasted himself under the chin. It took off his lower jaw, most of his upper teeth, part of his nose, and one eye but survived. After he came out of the MCU, he spent three years in a psych hospital.
Then, he went off his meds and fell on his sword, which, unfortunately, did the trick.
36. Chest Deep In Trouble
I worked in cardiology. The aortic valve in the heart is the valve that pushes blood that is oxygenated from the lungs into your body; it is also very susceptible to infection. A young patient came in and had to have a valve replacement. They were healthy, so open heart surgery was recommended. They had the procedure, and all was good...or so we thought.
They were healing well but then messaged us about a small spot on the wound. They were advised to keep watching it and let us know if it got worse. Eventually, the spot opened up, and the doctor took a look. While it didn't seem too bad, the wound tunneled. It was bad enough that it affected their sternum. The patient had to have their sternum taken out to stop infection.
That meant that their chest was entirely without protection, mainly the heart. Even a slight bump could send their heart into a fatal arrhythmia. The patient is alive and well today after infectious disease intervention and is set for titanium to protect the chest once the infection has been clear for a bit. I
still don't know how they managed to walk around without any protection for their heart, though.
37. An Underwater Miracle
I was a pediatric nurse. We had a kid come in after spending roughly five minutes underwater and nearly drowning. The whole family couldn't swim but were posing for a photo in a local lake, hip-deep in the water. After taking a step back for the final picture, the water got deeper, and they all plunged.
The boy we got as a patient was pulled out unconscious after five minutes and was rushed to the hospital. His EEG (brain waves) weren’t great, but not terrible, either. He was in a coma for around two weeks and had to be sedated and restrained because he relived the drowning repeatedly and hurt himself while flailing and throwing fists.
When that got better, the doctors lowered the sedation dose, and he suddenly woke up after those two weeks. He was fully aware and responding. Before that, we had to hold him down with four nurses for a simple blood draw, and suddenly, the kid was holding a conversation with you and asking when he could go home.
Everyone involved was tearing up to see him come alive again with no physical harm.
38. He Somehow Pulled Through
I did some time as a correctional officer. It was pretty common to have inmates out at hospitals for various things. We were assigned to a guy who was terminal. He had a drain tube coming out the top of his head, and every time the nurses or doctor performed a check, you could see them getting more and more downcast.
His cranial pressure was far too high and was not going down, no matter what they did. He was 100% unresponsive. They had him hooked up to everything and called in his family, even waiting for some who were out of state to come in, so they could all say their goodbyes. They pulled the drain and the ventilator. Then, a miracle happened.
He started breathing on his own. He underwent a full recovery over the next week. The next time I saw him, it was to leave the hospital and go back to finish his sentence.
39. Septic Shocker
I had a patient who came in septic and was maxed on four pressors, intubated with 100% FiO2, nitric oxide, PEEP of 14, sedated, was COVID+, and had a pH of 6.8, which is not compatible with life. We had a blunt talk with a family member and said, “I’ve never seen a favorable outcome for someone in this condition”. We started on CRRT the next day and, within a week, was extubated and following commands.
40. He Came Back From Behind
When I was a student paramedic, on my second week on the road, we got a call out to a 19-year-old who’d been besieged by a group of lads with a machete. He had a few cuts dotted around his body that were deep enough that you could see tissue but nothing severe. He was also half scalped and had a wound on his behind, which didn’t look too bad from the outside.
We didn’t realize the extent of his wounds until we got him in, and they did all of their immediate checks. The ultrasound found fluid where there wasn’t supposed to be any. It turned out the jab wound on his behind went in and up and caught this poor guy's main artery. So, he was essentially bleeding to death at this point.
He was naturally tanned but was as white as a ghost by the time we reached the hospital. My mentor spoke to one of the doctors about a month or so later and found out that after all the necessary treatments and surgeries, he left the hospital alive and well only three weeks after the incident happened.
41. A Real Brain Teaser
I was on call for a transplant as a coordinator, and we got an organ donor who was a 30-something-year-old who had been beaten up and left for a goner in an alleyway. They were non-responsive with very little brain activity, not to mention physical injuries that required life-support. But because they had brain activity, they were a DCD donor.
We had to wait to see if they woke up or had no brain activity. Surprisingly, the organ donor woke up. But that wasn't the wildest part. THEN, they sat up and started trying to take off all the equipment because their heart started beating on its own again. They WALKED out of the hospital two days later.
42. He Was Almost Screwed
When I had my first spontaneous pneumothorax, on the bed in front of me was a guy with his head swollen three times the size of an average head. Days later, he woke up and was speaking. He was changing a tire on his Audi A4. When the tire was taken down, and the car was on the jack, he remembered a screw that made a sound every time he turned the car to the left, so he hopped under the car.
He turned the screw and heard a squeaking sound from the direction of the jack. He turned to the sound and saw the jack turn to the side while the car fell. The Audi fell from about 55cm onto his face; his collarbone saved his life. The vehicle was lying on his face for about four hours until his grandfather came to get a drill. He lifted the car with his hands long enough to pull him out.
His eye was the reddest I've ever seen, and the back of his head was just crunched. He had multiple brain surgeries and had to re-learn many movements, especially eating, since they were forced to partially reconstruct his jaw on one side.
43. Take A Hike, I’m Gonna Live
Years ago, I woke up from a month-long coma due to an anoxic brain injury. I had zero brain function, and the neurologist was trying to get my wife to pull the plug. He told her, "This is the definition of brain death. We can continue to keep him alive, but eventually, an infection will kill him". Those were the doctor's exact words and were seconded by the rest of my care team.
Luckily my wife—who has an amazingly strong person—told those doctors to take a hike and moved me into a long-term acute care hospital. Physical therapists started moving me around in what I can only assume was a Weekend at Bernie's type of situation, and in the immortal words, “I got bet'ah”.
44. Cyborg Survivor
A friend of mine was in a tractor accident as a kid. The tractor rolled, threw him from the seat, and then landed on top of him.
Somehow he survived and underwent nearly a year of surgery and physical therapy. By the end, he had to have his scalp, sternum, jaw, shins, and one of his forearms replaced with titanium. I called him a “cyborg” because he would show off his titanium parts by having people punch him in the chest or by shoving his head through stuff.
45. Against All Odds
We had a patient who was in a serious car accident. He had multiple serious injuries, the worst of which was a C spine fracture and spinal cord injury in the C1-C3 area, which is where the nerves innerving the diaphragm are. We were sure that, even if he survived his other injuries, he would be paralyzed from the head down, unable to breathe on his own.
He was hospitalized in our unit (CCU) for about two months and had many surgeries. We were able to transfer him to the long-term ICU. Then, he came back a few weeks later to a rehabilitation unit. We found out he somehow miraculously could not only breathe on his own, but he was also learning to walk again.
46. A Low Prop-Ability Of Survival
I'm a rescue flight mechanic in the Coast Guard H60 helicopter. We rescued a nine-year-old boy who went through a large vessel's prop. He had a laceration across the entirety of his back that exposed his vertebrae and both body cavities. His left thigh had two large lacerations, and his right arm had several large lacerations.
His left ankle was cut in half and twisted off to the side. After flying him from the Bahamas to Miami, we dropped him off at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Two days later, the hospital informed us he had survived. He was given over 3,000 stitches and had multiple transfusions. His vertebrae were chipped, but his spinal cord was not cut. The kid was lucky to live.
47. Almost Eaten Alive
I was a nurse specializing in wounds. I had a patient who shouldn’t have survived. She was a regular lady, a little overweight with some mild hypertension, but nothing crazy. She was an intelligent woman who worked a full-time job as an aviation mechanic. She came in and got an awful diagnosis.
She had necrotizing fasciitis—flesh-eating bacteria that started from a bug bite/cut on her stomach after swimming in one of the local lakes in our state. She had a 10% chance of survival.
Her peritoneum was exposed completely. It had eaten her skin and soft tissues across her abdomen, all the way across from top to bottom, around her flanks, the tops of her thighs, and under her bosom. The wound measured about 70.0cm by 120.0cm with a depth of 7.0cm or so in some parts.
After many months of wound care, skin grafts, and PT/OT, she walked right out of the facility. She was left scarred but completely fine!
48. A Race Against Time
When I was eight years old, my dad was running his first and last marathon. My mom, brother, and I were at the finish line waiting for him to appear out of this tunnel, signs in hand that read “Go, Dad Go”! I spotted him and excitedly pointed him out to my mom and brother. Only a few moments passed before my dad started to drift off to the side, his eyes glazed over.
Before we could figure out what was wrong with him, he collapsed into the side rails that separated the spectators from the track. He had a sudden cardiac arrest, and the ONLY reason he’s alive today is that he collapsed at the feet of a cardiologist who jumped the rails to resuscitate him.
He was in a coma for a week or so, and to this day, he doesn’t remember anything after the first half of the race.
49. Miracle In The Morgue
I was sitting with a cancer patient who came through the ER because of complications with their chemo treatment that day. I heard over the radio that EMS was coming in with a code, no sinus rhythm, no heartbeat, no pulse, and no blood pressure. It was a classic DOA scenario. They bagged them and eventually trached them, but nothing worked. The doctor called the time.
My cancer patient passed at almost the same time due to complications. I went down to the hospital morgue to pay my respects. After about ten minutes of me crying over this child, I heard banging from one of the freezers where the bodies were stored.
Night of the Living Dead ran through my mind, but I put my fear aside and opened it. This guy was alive and breathing. I almost passed out. I hit the panic button, and everything went crazy. Doctors, nurses, and security were in the room in less than a minute.
This guy had two rare conditions that would cause their heart to slow down to where it was undetectable by a pulse oximeter. At the same time, the signals from his brain to his heart would desync, causing a false negative on an EKG, basically leading to a fake demise.
50. She Almost Lost Her Head
A woman had been in a car crash. She was checked out by paramedics at the scene and cleared. A couple of hours later, her head really hurt, so she was told to go to ER. She walked in with her skull quite literally not attached to her spine.
She had a C1 dislocation. In 99.9999999% of cases, that's instant demise. How she managed to survive many hours with her head detached from the rest of her body, none of us will ever know.