5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives

If you believe Twitter, 90 percent of people are hoping death comes as soon as possible, but in reality, living's a lot better than dying. If you can almost die but somehow do not, well, that may well be the greatest thing to ever happen to you. Often, your impending death may be staved off due to a doctor or a Spider-Man, but other times, it could be the last thing you'd expect.

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5
A Breast Implant Knocked A Bullet Away From A Woman's Heart

Many stories tell of random objects saving victims from deadly bullets, and each one sounds miraculous in its own special way. You'll get, say, the soldier saved by a lucky coin or a serial killer target saved by keys. During the Russian Revolution, the Tsar's family survived being shot for a little while because of the diamonds sewn into their underwear. You might even be saved if you get shot right in the cell phone (one theory says cell phones are designed to break this way, so you can survive and buy a replacement).

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - woman checking her cell phone
John Tuesday/Unsplash
When phones randomly slow down after a year, they're absorbing the ravages of time for you.
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Those fabulous bullet-resistant objects tend to be tough as bullets themselves, or even tougher. But today we're going to tell you about a shooting victim saved by her breast implant, an object that would function terribly if it stayed totally rigid, unless the phrase "rock-hard breasts" sounds like a good time to you. Her implants were silicone and 450 milliliters each in size, which is about one pint. They didn't quite create a Kryptonian chest that totally reflected bullets, but one of them did throw a bullet's trajectory off far enough to save their owner's life.

The 30-year-old patient entered a Toronto hospital in 2018, having been shot (according to her) by an unseen stranger on the street. That isn't an expected danger for your average Canadian, but the doctors write no further about the police investigation -- that's not their job. A copper-jacketed 0.4 caliber bullet entered at the top of her left breast. It was on track to hit her heart and maybe lungs. Instead, her left implant sent it off-course to her sternum, and it next bounced off that bone, went to her right breast and ruptured that implant too, and broke a rib on her right side before running out of steam. She was even able to speak to the doctors before the surgery, pretty impressive for someone who just got shot in the chest.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - woman survives after a bullet is deflected off her breast implant
SAGE journals
We can show you this much, while the paper documents the full surgery in bloody color. 
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Researchers looked through medical literature to see the history of bullets rupturing implants (probably more common in America, they reasoned) and found four previous patients who survived such gunshots, with doctors crediting the implants as life-saving in two of those cases. If you're now thinking of getting implants solely to protect yourself from casual gunfire, we recommend you carefully consider the procedure's risks and rewards. It makes much more sense to go further and implant a full polycarbonate endoskeleton.

4
A Diabetic Got The Treatment He Needed When His Dog Bit Off His Toe

Rosee Douthett suspected her husband Jerry might be a candidate for diabetes. She was a nurse, and her brother had died from diabetes complications, so she knew to look out for the symptoms -- thirst, fatigue, inexplicably whispering "diabeetus" in your sleep. Jerry considered her warnings, but he also had another concern: his big toe. He'd nicked it somehow, then he'd started picking at the wound, and when it still failed to heal, he hacked at the messy toe skin with a kitchen knife. Somehow, this did not improve things.

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The infected toe began to smell. And began to swell. He could no longer fit his foot into his shoes, and so he switched to sandals. He still managed to hide the injury from his wife; presumably, this meant wearing socks with the sandals, which some would say means he deserved whatever came next. Finally, Rosee spotted the a-toe-city and convinced Jerry it really was time to get checked out. But first, he went on a quick bender, which consisted of half a dozen beers and a couple margaritas and ended in him passing out on his bed. It looked like a drunken blackout. It was really a diabetic coma.

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Along came the couple's Jack Russell terrier Kiko, who sniffed at the foot. Dogs are attracted to the smell of wounds and may be especially attracted to sweet blood, so Kiko let instinct take over and bit off most of the man's toe. Jerry didn't awaken instantly -- diabetic nerve damage numbed much of the pain -- but he did wake up. And so he got himself to the hospital, where they amputated what little was left of the toe and also diagnosed him with diabetes. His blue toes and glucose had both been dangerous, but the sugar was likely the more pressing danger. His levels were so high that medical intervention was absolutely necessary.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - hospital IV needle being injected into a man's arm
Hush Naidoo/Unsplash
Legally, his blood at this point qualified as Mountain Dew.
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Jerry figured this all meant Kiko might be a menace and considered putting the dog down. Then others pointed out, dude, your dog just saved your life, so he changed his tune. A year later, Kiko was still part of the household and slept in their bed, though Jerry now wore shoes just in case. Also, leaning into the publicity, he wrote a Japanese love song called "Kiki Ate My Toe" and shot footage of the dog licking peanut butter off his toe stub. (It's nice when a story ends in a classic, timeworn fashion.)

3
Thomas Paine Escaped Execution Because The French Marked The Door Wrong

One nice thing about being on the winning side of a war is that you're likely not to be immediately executed right after. In that sense, Thomas Paine was in a pretty good place in the 1780s. The American Revolution had started thanks to his pamphlets like Common Sense and The American Crisis (writings that, judging just by their titles, could easily be bestsellers today written by internet yahoos who want you to drink colloidal silver), and the American Revolution ended with Paine's side winning and Paine owning property in New Jersey. He was all set, but then France went and revolted too, so he went to Paris to check it out.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - portrait of American revolutionary Thomas Paine
Laurent Dabos
Why else would anyone choose Paris over New Jersey?
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With Paine such a fan of revolutions, he was probably going to be a hero to the French as well, right? Sure, he was, for a while. Unfortunately, he also had some controversial views, like, " Let's not behead the king, or anyone really." When the revolutionaries divided into factions, he found himself on the wrong side. The side on top rounded up Paine's, threw them in prison, and planned to kill them all, which was their solution for everything.

So, Paine wound up in Paris's Luxembourg Prison and had a date with the guillotine. Six months in, he got a severe fever, and his cellmates got permission one day to open the cell door so breeze could cool him. This wasn't some ruse so they could escape -- the prison overall was still guarded. But for a while, his door just happened to be open. Then the guards came by and chalked the doors of everyone scheduled for execution the next day, including Paine. Since that door was open, they marked the inner side rather than the outer one. So when the door was later closed and the executioner came, he didn't realize the cell door was marked.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - Luxembourg Prison in Paris, where Thomas Paine was held
JLPC/Wiki Commons
It was a weird prison. This was what it looked like.
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Before the prison could realize their mistake and kill him after all, America replaced their ambassador to France. The new guy, James Monroe, cared enough about Paine to declare him a US citizen and under America's protection, so he got him out of there. And so Paine escaped death row, none the worse for his stay there. It even seems like he wrote much of The Age of Reason in prison, so if you've yet to write that book of yours, what's your excuse? (If your excuse is that you have shit to do, and you aren't forcefully motivated by an impending execution, those are pretty good excuses, actually.)

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2
Guy Donates Blood For Years For Packers Tickets; Turns Out His Disease Requires Bloodletting

Today, we're going to tell you about Jim Becker, a member of the Green Bay Packers Fans Hall of Fame. And on hearing that, we'd forgive you for skipping the rest of this entry and just saying, "Wait, what? A fan hall of fame?" A sports team recognizes fans who pay to see every game for years on end, so it can score a news piece celebrating this obsession? Yikes, what next. Do bars honor alcoholics who drink for decades by sticking their name on the wall next to the bathroom? Does McDonald's use old people who come in every single morning to nab a spot on the news about how the restaurant is really a family? ( Yes and yes.)

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - man flipping over cards during a game of poker
Michał Parzuchowski/Unsplash
We'd joke about casinos "rewarding" gambling addicts, but you already know they do that.
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But back to Jim Becker. So, Becker served in Korea in the '50s, then he came back and reclaimed his childhood passion: watching the Green Bay Packers play. But it became harder and harder to afford season tickets, what with he and his wife gradually getting eleven children. So to make some extra money to buy them, he started selling blood. Totally an inspirational story, if you believe Packers press releases. Not at all a tale of sad desperation. Let's just hope some of those eleven children were Packers fans too and the whole family got fun out of the tickets.

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The blood-for-admission scheme continued for years. Then when Jim turned 45, a hospital diagnosed him with a condition called hemochromatosis. His father had had it too and died from it, but he hadn't thought to get checked for it himself. The treatment for hemochromatosis? Bloodletting. Which means either leeches, cutting yourself, or giving blood. That's the only way to rid the body of all the excess iron retained thanks to the disease.

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Doctors said that had Jim not been selling his blood regularly all those years, he'd have already been dead. But he was alive, and was still alive another 35 years later to get inducted into that Green Bay Packers Fans Hall of Fame.

Maybe you cheer for Jim's story, maybe you're still recoiling at the idea of selling blood to watch football games. Keep in mind though that today, you can't get Packers season tickets no matter how much money you offer. They have a waiting list tens of thousands of names long, and if you hop on now, you might be able to get tickets in 40 years. So, even without the process saving your life, a little body fluid early on would be a small price to pay for tickets you can renew every year and pass on to your heirs.

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1
The Soviets Almost Killed The Afghan President, But Coke Saved Him

Russia and Afghanistan have had a long and confusing relationship, but before Russia was hiring the Taliban as freelance assassins, and before the whole US-Afghan war, and before the whole Soviet-Afghan war, there was a period when the two countries were on good terms. Then came a Soviet-backed revolution in 1978, led by the not-Soviet-backed Hafizullah Amin. The new Soviet-backed president, Nur Muhammad Taraki, tried to send loose cannon Amin out of the country as an ambassador, but Amin called him an old drunk and vowed not to go anywhere.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - Hafizullah Amin and Nur Muhammad Taraki
via Wiki Commons
One of the men had to die. Or possibly both of them.
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Taraki invited Amin back to the Presidential Palace for lunch a while later. Amin showed up with a couple other officials including the police chief and found that, surprise, the invitation was a trap, and guards opened fire at both of them. Wounded but still alive, Amin escaped. He headed right over to the Army, who'd always been on Team Amin, and got them to arrest the president. And just in case that didn't put an end to the Taraki threat, Amin had his rival smothered to death with a pillow.

Wait, weren't we supposed to be talking about how the Afghan president didn't die? Right, but the death-defying president here is Amin, who succeeded Taraki as the nation's leader. The USSR wasn't happy about their guy Taraki having been knocked off, so they sent in a team from their national guard, ostensibly to protect Amin during this time of unrest. Their actual mission was to destroy the new government, starting by assassinating Amin. They managed to install in the palace a Soviet cook, who slipped poison into Amin's lunch. And so the team waited for the palace to explode in chaos as the president dramatically slumped down dead.

5 Hollywood-Worthy Twists That Saved People's Lives - Kabul, Afghanistan
Cherie Cullen
The cook would have to change disguises and hide in a cupboard till things calmed down.
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That never happened. Turns out the Coca-Cola Amin drank with his meal neutralized the poison. Maybe it was the bubbles, or maybe it was because Coke is itself such a powerful capitalist fluid that it leaves no room for other Communist chemicals to act. Anyway, the Soviets didn't really understand Coke. Unlike the wild Western paradise of Afghanistan, which had glugged the stuff for ages with no iron curtain keeping it out, the USSR had only seen Coca-Cola products arrive openly that very year, while Pepsi had only come a little earlier in the decade.

And so Amin survived. At least, until three months later, when the Soviets dropped all subtlety and just stormed the palace. See, you technically never can save someone's life because everyone dies eventually. But if you can at least buy them a little extra time, they tend to be grateful. The lesson of the day is: if you have to save anybody's life, save Dracula's. He'll get the most juice out of your good deeds.

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