4 People Seemingly Exempt From Known Medical Science
Despite the insistence of Dr. Leo Spaceman, medicine is, indeed, a science. It is, though, far from a complete one. It turns out that the things that enable a strange system of wet meats and electrical charge to dunk a basketball are highly complicated. Sometimes, that can end in frustration and tragedy, as medical professionals are unable to effectively treat an unfortunate, unusual ailment. In even rarer cases, though, the human body can somehow eke out a positive outcome that seems to spit in the face of every medical textbook and leave a doctor with no other recourse than to happily shrug to the family and try to make the phrase “the darndest thing” sound clinical.
Even in the modern day, when medical professionals have learned a whole lot more, and rely much less heavily on leeches and cocaine, certain patients still come along that show us there’s still a lot to learn about the bits and bobs that keep us breathing. Whether it’s divine intervention, as many would like to believe, or a classic case of bodies being really, really weird, is for you to decide. Whatever category you choose to file them under, we still love a feel-good story that’s an example of the only time you ever want to hear a doctor say, “What the fuck?”
Feel-good stories like those of…
Jeanna Giese, Survived Rabies
Rabies can start to feel a little cartoonish, with frothy mouths and barking humans, but the reality is that rabies is an absolutely horrific disease with an incredibly high mortality rate. So high that when you talk about survivors, you don’t need to use percentages, you can just use single digit whole numbers. Luckily, rabies now has an accessible vaccine that, if administered soon after a bite or infection, can save the victim in question. If you don’t receive that vaccine, or wait until after you’re displaying symptoms, though, you’re in for a dark ride, descending into violent madness before dying from drowning in your own bodily fluids, muscle spasms in places that really shouldn’t spasm or heart arrythmia.
Unless you’re as lucky as Jeanna Giese, the first person to ever survive rabies without vaccination. Even today, the number of people who have survived in the same manner is eight. They’ve used the same process tried on Giese, known as the Milwaukee Protocol, which includes inducing a coma in the patient to allow their body to more efficiently fight the disease. This might make you think, “It sounds like they just found a cure,” except that the Milwaukee Protocol is a long, long way from being consistently effective, so much so that many medical experts consider it invalid or even harmful. To that end, many believe Giese’s survival, along with those very few others, is due to nothing more than pure biological luck.
Kali Hardig, Survived Brain-Eating Amoeba
You may want to skip this entry if you’re a big fan of water parks and you want to keep up your killer farmer’s tan. But if you’re not too concerned about ruining wave pools for yourself forever, keep reading. This is a story from 2016 about a 12-year-old girl who ended up sick at a water park, and not in the innocent, too many hot dogs and soda sort of way. Kali Hardig was splashing about at Willow Springs Water Park in Arkansas, as one might expect a child to do, and some water got up her nose, as one might expect water to do. Unfortunately, this bit of water had a deeply unsavory surfer: Naegleria fowleri, commonly called the “brain-eating amoeba.” And that’s not coming from a lifeguard trying to spook troublemakers, but the CDC themselves.
After she started exhibiting symptoms, doctors jumped into action, filling her with all sorts of antifungals, antibiotics, anti-pretty much anything they had on hand, and dropped her body temperature to 93 degrees to try to preserve her brain tissue. Despite the treatment, the doctors weren’t feeling too confident — and for good reason. Before Hardig, only 2 people had survived the infection, and Hardig had a particularly severe infection. Somehow, though, she not only survived, but as of 2016, was living a normal life without long-term brain damage and even swimming again, which I’m sure her parents love.
Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro, Died for 45 Minutes
Childbirth mortality rates are one area in which medicine has really turned things around. Props to whatever doctor figured out to maybe wear gloves and not give birth on a dirty wooden floor. Sadly, though, death during childbirth is still a very real, and incredibly tragic occurrence. For at least 45 minutes, the doctors and family of Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro thought that she had joined that horrific statistic. After suffering an amniotic fluid embolism, where the amniotic fluid of the womb enters the bloodstream, she passed out, and two hours later, her heart had stopped.
Doctors, to their credit, spent an incredible amount of time trying to revive her, doing 45 minutes of chest compressions and attempts with a defibrillator, before finally having to call her family in and say their goodbyes. After the family left the room, and as the medical team were preparing to record her time of death, her heart suddenly started again, with no outside stimulus. Even the hospital had no ideas beyond describing it as a “spontaneous resuscitation.”
As if they weren’t confused enough, Graupera-Cassimiro came out of the near-death experience to return to perfect health shockingly quickly. When someone’s heart stops for any period of time, even with a miraculous return to life, the lack of oxygen delivered to the brain due to the lack of a beating heart usually results in catastrophic damage. According to cardiologist Kevin Kravitz, “If the brain does not have oxygen for about five minutes, the patient will become brain-dead or close to it. Even if you then shock them and keep them alive, there will likely be no meaningful brain function.”
Double miracles? Now she’s just showing off.
Jordan Taylor, Survived Decapitation
Decapitation is a fairly reliable method of execution. I mean, anything that works on vampires should definitely work on humans. Following that, it’s got a pretty spotless track record as far as fatality. But strangely enough, there is one single blip in the statistics that, for all intents and purposes, means that decapitation does not have a 100 percent mortality rate. That blip is a boy named Jordan Taylor.
First, let’s be clear, this wasn’t your medieval, Viking-style, hit the ground and roll style decapitation. It was instead what they call an internal decapitation, which somehow manages to sound worse. What this means is that while the soft tissue of the neck remains attached, the base of the skull is separated from the spine, which is kind of the most important part of the whole deal. It’s an injury that, 70 percent of the time, results in immediate death, with many victims dying in the aftermath even if they do survive the initial trauma.
Somehow, Taylor not only survived, but had “almost fully recovered” after only three months. That’s the sort of timeline you’d expect for a collarbone break after beefing it on your bike, not as a result of a fully free-floating skull. He was even back in school that January, which seems a little cruel. I mean, at the very least, his biology textbook is going to kind of feel like bullshit now.