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Medical Miracles from Around the World

November 22, 2015

The world of medicine is a strange and fascinating one where newer discoveries are being made each day. Despite these strides made, there are situations and accidents where recovery may only be deemed a medical miracle. Here are some such exceptional stories.

1. Malala Yousafza – Malala was 15 and already famous. She was a daring young girl from Pakistan and had written extensively about the Talibani occupation of Swat Valley. She championed women’s education and allowed the world a glimpse of her life. In 2012, Malala was shot point blank by a Taliban gunman. One of the three shots entered her skull through the left of her forehead and went through her face, hitting the shoulder. After being deemed critical in Pakistan, Malala’s father brought her to Birmingham in the UK where she was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She underwent a series of surgeries including a complete facial reconstruction. The final surgery inserted a titanium piece to substitute her skull and implanted a cochlear hearing device to replace her eardrum. Malala recovered and emerged an international champion of women’s education and freedom. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

2. Lake Anabelle Hall – Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado realized that baby Lake Annabelle Hall was suffering from a cyst in her left lung as a fetus in her mother’s womb. A team of 43 medical personnel including doctors and nurses operated on the unborn child which remained connected to the mother through her umbilical cord. Her condition was detected when her mother was 20 weeks pregnant and if born with the condition, the child would not have been able to survive labor. Baby Lake Annabelle hall was born after the surgery that took place 10 weeks later (in 2013) and grew into a healthy and beautiful child.

3. Sanju Bhagat – In 1999, Sanju Bhagat was 36 years old and lived in Nagpur, India, when he went in for medical treatment complaining of shortness of breath. All his life Sanju had been teased over an abnormally large belly. During the surgery, doctors of the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai found a mangled fetus within. It was soon established that the half-formed creature was Sanju’s twin brother whom he had carried around all his life. The second fetus had been living in Sanju as a parasitic growth. Sanju recovered rapidly and well from the surgery.

4. Martin Jones – In 2009, 42-year-old Martin Jones from Broom, Rotherham (United Kingdom) had been blind for more than a decade. Robbed of his sight when a tub of hot aluminum blasted in his face, Martin had given up any hope of seeing the world or his wife Gill. Brighton based ophthalmological surgeon Christopher Lui found him suitable for the new tooth transplant surgery. During the surgery, Martin’s canine tooth was removed and was transformed into a holder for a specially designed optical lens that was placed into his eye. Vision restored, Martin could see his wife who married him when he was blind.

5. Katrina Burgess – Katrina Burgess was beautiful and vibrant and 17 years old when the car she was traveling in crashed on the M5 killing a little girl. Katrina’s spine, neck, pelvis, ribs, and left leg were broken and her lungs punctured. Her chances of survival were slim and the doctors were sure that she wouldn’t be able to walk even if she did survive. Later, however, the surgeons at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset, UK, inserted 11 metal rods to hold up her bones and skeleton. After five months of convalescence, in 2009, not only did Katrina get back to her feet but also bagged a modeling contract.

6. Jordan Taylor – In 2008, Jordon Taylor was 8 years old and lived in Hillsboro in Texas, USA. Jordon was involved in a car accident and was nearly decapitated. Jordon’s mother was behind the wheel and a dump truck that had run a stop sign slammed into her car separating Jordon’s neck from his skull and destroying all connective tissue – a condition called Orthopedic Decapitation. His chances of survival were pegged at about 1 percent. Dr. Richard Roberts of Cook Childrens’ Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, operated on the boy, reattaching his skull and neck with titanium rods and a metal plate. Jordon soon recovered his ability to walk, speak, and play and made a remarkable recovery.

7. D’Zhana Simmons – D’Zhana Simmons was 14 years old and survived 118 days at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Center without a heart. D’Zhana suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, meaning that her heart became very large and was too weak to pump blood. After a heart transplant, the second heart also started to fail. D’Zhana’s doctors then replaced her heart with two pumps that kept her going till she recovered her strength and found a new donor. The custom designed heart pump kept her going till she received another transplant. In the meanwhile she also fought a kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. She also received a kidney transplant and recovered well.

8. Charla Nash – In February 2009, Charla Nash from Connecticut was attacked by her friend and neighbor Sandra Harold’s pet chimpanzee. Charla suffered horrifying injuries when the chimpanzee tore away most of her face and hands. She lost her hands, her nose, eyes, and lips, apart from suffering brain tissue damage. Charla’s condition was treated by a number of surgeries and she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. In 2011, the US military paid for an experimental full face transplant giving her a new face. Charla’s new hands, however, had to be removed due to infection.

9. Alcides Moreno – Not many expect to survive a 500 foot, 47 storey fall. Alcides Moreno was a 37-year-old New York window washer who stepped on to the wooden scaffolding platform that he usually washes windows from in December 2007. His brother, who was with Alcides, also crashed into the concrete and died on impact. Alcides was rushed to the New York-Presbyterian hospital, a little less than a mangled mass, and operated upon by doctors. Weeks later, on Christmas Day, he started to talk. Several months later, he started to walk as well.

10. Virsaviya “Bathsheba” Borun-Goncharova, 2015 – Bathsheba is 6 years old. She is also a very special child. She suffers from a condition that affects less than one in million births – Pentalogy of Cantrell. In Bathsheba’s case, the condition has caused her heart to form outside her rib cage with only skin covering it. Her intestines have also formed outside her abdomen. Bathsheba, originally from Russia, has now moved to the US with her parents and is scheduled to undergo surgery in two years at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. Her parents are spending this time crowdsourcing funds for the treatment.