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10 Incredible Patient Recoveries That Went Against All Odds

Estelle Thurtle


Accidents happen every day. Some are minor, but many are life-threatening. The same holds true for diseases. When these things happen, some people lose hope and wait for the inevitable. The people on this list, however, faced certain death after being involved in various types of accidents or being diagnosed with deadly diseases. But they all made a miraculous recovery.

10Okkhoy

4 Rickshaw
A father desperately clutching his seven-year-old bleeding boy and riding on a rickshaw to the nearest hospital is not something you see every day. This is exactly what happened to a little boy only known as Okkhoy and his father in Bangladesh in 2010.

A group of four men had viciously attacked the boy just a couple of hours earlier. The men, having an obvious lack of regard for life, hit the boy over the head with a large brick after tying his hands and feet up. As if this weren’t brutal enough, the men also sliced an upside-down cross into the child’s body and finally chopped off his penis and one of his testicles.

Okkhoy was lured from his safe family home by three other kids. These children promised to give him a treat if he went along with them. Feeling uneasy after a while, Okkhoy decided to go back home. It was then that the group of men grabbed him. They tried to force Okkhoy to beg for money. The child threatened to tell his father what they were doing, and this led to the horrific attack. They left him for dead.

Okkhoy’s mother found her boy lying next to a warehouse in a pool of blood. It was here that that Okkhoy’s father found them and rushed his son to hospital using the only means of transport he could afford: a rickshaw.

Despite the horror of this day, Okkhoy made a remarkable recovery within three months in the hospital. However, two years later he still carried the physical scars of what had happened to him and he will most likely always be afraid of the dark. After his story attracted international attention, surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore succeeded in reconstructing a functioning penis for him.


9Janne Kouri

9 volleyball
In August 2006, 31-year-old Janne Kouri was playing a game of beach volleyball with his friends on a California beach. Life had been good to Janne up to that point. He was a star football player on the verge of catching the eye of bigwigs at the NFL and also the director of a social network.

On that beautiful day, Janne felt like going for a quick swim between games and he ran down to the ocean. Then tragedy struck. As Janne dove into the waves, his head struck a sandbar, damaging his spinal cord and rendering him instantly paralyzed.

After Janne was rushed to the hospital, his girlfriend and family received the devastating news that he would never walk again. He would spend the next two months in ICU and almost lose his life twice, all while battling pneumonia. His bright life and future seemed dark and hopeless.

Janne told his girlfriend, Susan, that she was free to leave him, and he didn’t expect her to take care of him. Susan stuck by him no matter what and refused to give up on him getting better. After coming across many dead ends in their research, the couple finally happened upon a doctor in Louisville. Sharing the same name as Janne’s girlfriend, it seemed that providence led the couple to this doctor who proclaimed there was a chance of recovery.

Dr. Susan Harkema was right. Janne Kouri stood up on his own without a walker five years later. It was a tough road to achieving this seemingly impossible goal and involved the constant practice of a training routine called loco-motor training. The entire experience inspired Janne and Susan to start a non-profit rehab center to ensure others in Janne’s situation could also benefit from loco-motor training.

And, while still on his road to recovery, Janne and Susan got married after realizing there was nothing they couldn’t face together.

8Randon Timmons

8 Skitching
“Skitching” almost cost 18-year-old Randon Timmons his life in 2014. In the small town of Van Buren, Indiana, some teenagers have no fear of grabbing hold of a moving vehicle and letting the driver drag them along while balancing on a skateboard. They call this “skitching.”

Randon was doing exactly this when his skateboard hit a bump in the road, and he went flying through the air before landing head first on the pavement.

He had almost no brain activity when doctors examined him and ended up having most of his skull removed because of the extreme brain swelling. There was very little hope that Randon would make it through the night.

While Randon’s dad and the rest of his family stayed at the boy’s bedside, the citizens of Van Buren arranged a prayer vigil, concert, and walk-a-thon in support of the family.

Almost miraculously, after a few weeks his condition had improved enough to be discharged from the hospital. Randy, Randon’s father, had already suffered the loss of his own brother and father in a car crash and refused to give up on his son. He kept telling his son how much he loved him and that he couldn’t leave him. Randy believes love and prayer helped his son get through the brain trauma.

While there is some permanent damage, such as mild amnesia and subtle parts of Randon’s personality that have changed, doctors believe that he will continue to lead a normal life. He does, however, have to wear a helmet while doing certain activities especially considering that he was not wearing one the day of the accident.



7Alcides Moreno

7 window washing
Alcides Moreno’s wife wasn’t too upset when he reached out his hand and attempted to stroke another woman’s face. Even though it was their special thing. After all, he was in a hospital bed and no one believed he would survive much less be able to stretch out his hand and speak.

Alcides and his brother Edgar were washing windows on the 47th story of a building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City when the platform they were standing on suddenly became loose and dropped out of the sky. The two men landed in an alleyway. Sadly, Edgar was killed on impact. Alcides was conscious and sitting up when rescuers and firefighters got to the scene.

By the time he reached the hospital, he was on the border of unconsciousness and tests revealed the catastrophic nature of his injuries. On top of serious brain injuries, Alcides also suffered spinal injuries, a broken arm, cracked ribs, and two broken legs, among other injuries. After an initial emergency operation, Alcides underwent nine more operations.

Doctors were stunned when Alcides Moreno spoke up after the trauma he’d been through. Rosario, his wife, wasn’t in his room on Christmas Day in 2007 when Alcides attempted to stroke a nurse’s face thinking it was his wife’s. She was there, however, when he spoke his first words since the accident took place. He simply asked, “What did I do?”

The doctors at the time predicted that Alcides would be fully recovered in just one year. They also believed that he would recover his ability to walk. Rosario only had one final thing to say to those interviewing her about her husband’s miraculous recovery: He was not going back to his old job.

6Elijah Belden

Electrical sparks
An early birthday party for nine-year-old Elijah Belden, held in October 2014, almost turned fatal when a freak accident happened. Elijah was posing for a picture with one of his friends when he came into contact with a metal support structure on the patio of his home. Outdoor lighting supported by the pole had somehow caused the pole to be electrified and the boy to be electrocuted.

Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. After 10 days of uncertainty and despair, Elijah woke from his coma. When asked by medical personnel what his name was he was able to respond correctly. His rapid recovery after this was called a miracle by his doctors and his father agreed.

Within two weeks of waking from his coma, Elijah started rehab and was able to take a walk outside. After this, he would be tested on a treadmill and doctors believed they would be able to send him home just a week after. Getting back to baseball practice is the next focus for Elijah and his family.

5Rachel Lozano

5 Priest
Rachel Lozano was diagnosed with an Askin’s tumor during high school and would fight a courageous battle against this rare form of cancer throughout the rest of her high school years.

The cancer went into remission twice. In order to achieve this, doctors performed multiple surgeries on Rachel including a bone marrow transplant. Rachel never lost hope and took the small victories and disappointing losses in stride. Even when her hair started falling out from chemo sessions, she allowed her bald head to be used as a canvas. She simply took everything as it came.

Then, the devastating news came. The cancer was back for a third time. Doctors told Rachel the tumor would claim her life within a couple of weeks, all depending on the organ it would take out first.

It was agreed that Rachel would undergo one last surgery as a last-ditch effort to remove the tumor. During the surgery, however, doctors were mystified and perplexed at the complete lack of a tumor. In fact, they could not find any cancerous tissue anywhere in the girl’s body and eventually closed her up without doing anything.

The hospital had no explanation for this incident and doctors would later testify that they had no medical explanation for not being able to find a tumor in Rachel’s body or even why she was still alive.

During an interview in 2013, Rachel, who had at that point been cancer-free for nine years, stated that her recovery from cancer was nothing less than a miracle. She also confirmed that she attended an honor ceremony for Father William Chaminade in 2000 and visited his grave. It was here that she prayed to the deceased clergyman for healing.

Rachel’s healing was proclaimed a miracle by the St. Louis Archdiocese and could become the second miracle attributed to Chaminade, making him a saint.



4Sam Schmid

10 Car Accident
In October 2011, Sam Schmid, a junior at the University of Arizona, never thought his life would change as drastically as it did when he got caught up in a horrific car accident involving five cars. The Jeep he was traveling in struck a light pole and flipped sideways. He was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition with two broken legs, a broken left hand, and severe brain injuries.

The news didn’t get any better at the hospital, and the young man was placed on life support. Doctors tactfully began to prepare Schmid’s family for the worst after surgery that was performed on him for a brain aneurysm resulted in a stroke.

Neurosurgeon Robert Spetzler, who operated on Schmid, was dumbfounded with his patient’s lack of response after surgery because his scans did not indicate fatal injury. Going according to his own instinct, Spetzler decided to keep Sam on life support for a while longer.

Just a few hours before the hospital could act on the decision for Sam to be removed from life support machines, Spetzler requested a new MRI scan. Against all odds, the scan showed positive improvements on the patient’s part. The same day, Sam started responding to what was happening around him. He was also able to follow instruction from the doctors.

By December 2011, Sam could walk with the help of a walker and was able to speak almost normally again. He doesn’t remember anything about the accident that almost claimed his life.

3Lesley Bunning

3 H1N1
Over 300 people in California alone succumbed to the H1N1 virus in 2014. When 61-year-old Lesley Bunning was diagnosed with the virus in January 2014, she was rushed to the emergency room by her family as soon as they saw her condition deteriorating.

At the hospital things further deteriorated and, to her family’s utter shock, Lesley was placed on life support and also in a medically induced coma. She spent 10 weeks this way, with doctors doing everything they could to help her, and her family praying for a miracle.

After the medical experts did everything to their medical knowledge to help Lesley, even consulting other doctors for additional measures, she still couldn’t breathe on her own. However, as they prepared the family for her inevitable death, Lesley suddenly breathed on her own. Doctors were flabbergasted.

They were able to remove her from the ventilator which was no longer necessary. They inserted a feeding tube to help her get stronger and gave her family the extraordinary news. One of the doctors went as far as to call her recovery a miracle.

Lesley Bunning has confirmed that she will never again skip her flu shot. She refused to take the shot before she contracted the virus. Now, she is determined to get it whenever necessary and also make sure the rest of her family takes theirs as well.

2Nicole Graham

2 Lacrosse
By the time Nicole Graham’s junior prom rolled around, she had not only beat cancer but survived two strokes as well. When she should have only been thinking of homework and boys at the beginning of her junior year of high school, Nicole had to come to terms with the fact that she had leukemia. So, instead of hanging out with her friends and gossiping about the latest celebrity meltdown, Nicole had to start chemo sessions.

The 16-year-old’s journey since her diagnosis has been difficult considering that between the diagnosis and her eventual recovery she had major setbacks including the above-mentioned strokes, organ failure, sepsis, and even paralysis on one occasion.

However, her recovery happened in record time. Once she started rehab, it only took her two months to recover fully from all that had happened to her. When she entered the process of rehabilitation she couldn’t even sit up. After the two months were done she could literally run around. Throughout this time she was supported not only by her family and friends but also her boyfriend.

Soon after leaving the hospital, Nicole rejoined her lacrosse team and became the team’s captain. Pupils in her school also voted for her to become homecoming queen for a night to celebrate her recovery.

1Luke Burgie

2 Nuns praying
Four-year-old Luke Burgie’s recovery from a mystery illness was proclaimed a miracle by Pope Francis himself. In 1998, the little boy suddenly fell ill. Everything he ingested came out in bouts of diarrhea and, if that weren’t enough, he would experience intense pain after eating a meal. His parents took him to specialists at a Denver hospital but even they had no idea what could possibly be ailing the boy.

By January the next year, it seemed that little Luke’s condition was grave. He was losing weight rapidly and no amount of treatment seemed to make a dent in his condition. Out of sheer desperation, his parents enlisted two nuns to pray for their child. The nuns in turn prayed to Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel who founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration back in 1863 and has been dead for more than 100 years. The prayer session lasted nine days.

The doctors meanwhile came up with a theory that poor Luke might have a tumor somewhere in his little body and scheduled a colonoscopy for him. However, when his parents brought him to the hospital for the test, Luke wasn’t sick anymore. His mother told the doctors that her son has simply jumped up from the couch he’d been lying on one afternoon and announced that the pain in his tummy was gone.

His mother was convinced of a miracle. While many remained skeptical, with some even indirectly accusing Luke’s parents of deliberately making their son ill “for the attention,” Pope Francis agreed with Jan Burgie. Fourteen years after Luke Burgie’s miraculous recovery, the Pope officially proclaimed the incident a miracle.

Estelle lives in Gauteng, JHB. She loves happy endings like the ones on this list.