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Doctors Reveal the Most Miraculous Recovery They’ve Ever Seen in a Patient

From premature babies to tough octogenarians, these people and their incredible stories baffled even medical professionals.

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In their own words

We explored a Reddit thread where doctors and nurses shared the recovery stories that baffled and amazed them. The results show that modern medicine, combined with the power of human determination, can overcome incredible circumstances. And these stories are just as wild as these 11 crazy stories from emergency room nurses.

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“The worst MRI I’d ever seen”

“I was on the stroke team. Saw a guy come in from the local prison. He had been an IV drug user and had bacteria in his blood, on his heart valves, and growing in multiple spots in his brain. His MRI was the worst-looking one I had ever seen. He was entirely comatose and on life support. We all knew he probably wouldn’t last long…It was decided that he was to be taken off life support.

“A few months later, one of my buddies ran into the guy and his family in the hospital elevator. He was in a wheelchair and actually talking. My friend had no idea how to react and actually started crying and apologizing for telling the family he had no chance. I still have trouble comprehending how that happened.”

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“He pushed through”

“I took care of a 23-week preemie (as opposed to 40 weeks for a typical baby). The dude was just 600 or so grams. [Chance of] survival is a little less than 50%…Long term issues are a near guarantee if they survive.

“This kid was on an oscillator, IV antibiotics, the works…He suffered a bleed in his brain. He pushed through. I left my rotation having cared for him for three weeks. I came back [at] 36 weeks. He looks amazing. From the treatment of his retinal disease, he’ll need glasses, but our ophthalmologist thinks he’ll have okay vision. His lungs have every reason to look horrible and they just…don’t. His brain MRI looks wonderful and he is acting like a normal 35-week baby. He will need to be watched closely, but even my jaded, battle-weary attending is incredibly hopeful. He’s got every reason to have crippling medical issues, but all signs are pointing to him leading a relatively normal baby life. It’s amazing.” Families should remember these 50 things hospitals don’t really want you to know if you have to go to the emergency room.

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Coworkers to the rescue

“We had a morbidly obese patient who went down at work. She was very lucky in that she had co-workers who had CPR training (paid for by their company!) and knew how to use the [defibrillator] in their office. She was with us for a whopping total of fifteen minutes before we zipped her off to the cath lab. No one thought she was going to make it.

“She was out of the hospital within a week and sent us and the emergency medical services crew a thank-you basket of fruit. I really hope that she got her co-workers something, because without their immediate action, there isn’t a doggone thing that any of us could have done.”

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Age is just a number

“Stroke patient. One side of his body was paralyzed. He walked out less than a month later. No [physical] therapy and no permanent damage. Guy is over 80.” This case is one of the most miraculous medical miracles of the year.

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You’ve come a long way, baby

“I’m an [ob/gyn]. And I delivered a baby with newborn leukemia. This baby looked like it had no chance of life with [an] enormous belly of ascites, hydrocephalus, leucocytosis (fluid buildups throughout the body) off the charts. This baby was transferred to a university and started on chemo at one day of life. I saw the baby at six weeks, and [it] was completely cured and normal in appearance.”

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“His heart was basically stopped for an hour”

“I had a patient that went into cardiac arrest and was found in refractory V-fib. It means his heart wasn’t pumping and was just quivering like a big ball of jello. Normally this is fixed by shocking it and typically converts after one [or] two shocks—or they flatline. This dude spent 45 minutes getting CPR and was shocked 15 times on the way to the hospital. So his heart was basically stopped for an hour. He was brought to the cath lab, put on ECMO (which is a heart lung bypass machine), and 2 stents (tubes) were placed. He walked out 3 days later. To this day it’s one of the longest instances of someone being in V-fib and surviving.”

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Sleep is a beautiful thing

“Patient with chronic depression with suicidal ideations, no meds worked, he tried ’em all for over a decade. [I] sent him for a sleep study; obstructive sleep apnea was identified. Put him on a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine); his whole life changed. He was really thankful to feel good again; he teared up when he thanked me.” Sleep can change someone’s life, so brush up on the 13 secrets only sleep doctors know.

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“Used to work in the special care nursery. We get a call from birthing unit, there’s a code critical, cord prolapse (umbilical cord is hanging out of mum so baby’s not getting oxygen). Get the call baby is coming to us. One baby comes through the door, then a second baby. No one told us they were twins.

“First twin is all right, he came out not long after the cord so not much oxygen starvation. Second twin unresponsive. We had doctors and nurses from all over the women’s health wards performing [resuscitation] on this tiny baby for close to 5 hours. Doctor in charge almost called it because they just weren’t getting a response from the kid. Finally, finally they bring the baby back, stable enough to be transferred to the NICU at one of our other hospitals. Dad came in the next day to pick up the first twin and told us mum and the second twin were doing well.”

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The Notebook in real life?

“There was an old couple…who had been married for 40+ years. They were the kind of old couple who still loved each other deeply and went on dates together. They had a tradition where anytime they went out for supper, the husband would order pie for dessert. And although the wife always claimed she didn’t want any and refused to order any, she would swoop in and steal the first bite of his pie every single time, to his constant annoyance.

“But then the husband began to develop a type of dementia…where he started to slowly forget who his wife was. Eventually it progressed to the point where he didn’t recognize his wife at all and became visibly distressed by living with a stranger.

“So he moved out of the house and into an assisted living style apartment. She lived alone, visiting him whenever she could, but he never had any idea who she was. Even seeing pictures of them together from their past visibly confused and distressed him.

“One of the docs recommended that the wife should start taking him on a few dates as if they truly were strangers, so that the husband could at least gain a new kind of familiarity with her presence.

“So she took him to a restaurant they had been going to their whole lives and had dinner. Afterwards he ordered pie, and without thinking she reached across the table and stole the first bite of it. The husband looked annoyed, but then suddenly seemed shocked and confused, and then started crying.

“Everything had come back….Something about that action triggered something in him and he was able to get back to who he was. They moved back in together and were able to pick up their lives again.” This story is equally as astonishing as these 60 secrets emergency room staff won’t tell you.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.