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October 13th, 2009
08:12 AM ET

Cheating Death: Real-life Medical Miracles

Stories of survival from people who actually died – and then came back to life.

All this week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is showing us firsthand accounts of men and women who have actually cheated death, and today we are talking about it on our blog.

Have you cheated death – or do you know ANYONE who has?

Share your stories below -and Heidi will talk about them in the Newsroom, 9a-11am ET.

Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Christina

    Several years ago our next door neighbor and good friend had a heart attack and went into a coma. The doctors told her family she was brain dead after doing several tests and asked the family to spend the weekend contemplating pulling the plug. Monday morning they returned to the hospital having made the decision to end her life. When they got to the hospital she was awake and completely lucid. She had no sign of brain damage and made a complete recovery. Makes you wonder if we know as much about the brain being dead as we think we do...

    October 13, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  2. Joshua

    about 25 yrs ago had pneumonia and didn't realize it and was traveling alot. I was in Boston and was coughing real bad. All of a sudden, I coughed and a flood of blood came out and wouldn't stop. I got to the hospital where I drowned in my own blood and my heart stopped and they had trouble getting it started. After that ordeal I was left without feeling below my knees, but it was a small price to pay

    October 13, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  3. mat

    I was born with my aorta on the wrong side and three holes in my heart at 9 weeks old i was in surgery and i died twice on the table but i am here now at the age of 23

    October 13, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  4. clarence lange

    re cheating death

    i went into cardiac arrest 4/17/93 and stayed in a coma for 12 days doctors told my wife if i lived i would be a vegetable.thanks be to jesus i am still kicking

    Clarence Lange

    October 13, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  5. Mireille Tchiboukdjian

    I really would like Dr Gupta to emphasize that this lady was in Norway. If she had been in this country they would have first checked to see if she was insured and if not I doubt if a US hospital would have spent the time and energy to revive her – isn't Norway way ahead of the US in health care?

    October 13, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  6. les brown

    about 65 years ago, as a toddler with a heavy wool toboggan on. My mom left me and my brother for a moment to go back inside our house for something she had forgotten. I toddled away, down a hill from our house and fell into a cold winter stream. My mom returned and searched for me. Finally my brother about 4 years old, I about 2, pointed toward where I went. My mom ran to the stream. She said she saw me lying on the bottom of the stream. Knowing nothing of CPR, she picked me up by my heels and shook me. I sputtered back to life. I'm not sure how long I was under water, but undoubtedly the cold water and my mom's effort saved my life.
    Les Brown

    October 13, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  7. Dave Anderson

    One more thought: our story may not fit your story-needs since we did not die and come back to life. We just out lived life expectancy by several times. Dave Anderson

    October 13, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  8. Kathy in LA

    I had an ectopic pregnancy that caused massive hemorrhaging. When I arrived in the ER via ambulance, I had an undetectable blood pressure and was barely alive. My heart stopped on the operating table, and although I had the typical "looking down at my body" experience. I heard everything the doctors said, and also heard a voice stating that it was my decision to go back into my body, or to continue to the next place. The doctors were able to restart my heart after 4 1/2 minutes, and when I woke up, I actually thought the nurse was an angel (and even asked her if she was). I later told the doctor everything he said, and he confirmed that this was correct.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  9. Eddie Hawn

    When I was five years old, I went swimming in the pool of my apartment complex, and accidentally strayed into the deep end. Down I went. I saw a white light, felt a wonderful sense of peace, and soon afterward my dad pulled me out. Not too much longer, I was baptized.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  10. Jack

    Not sure if it's considered cheating death but when I was a teenager I had contracted pneumonia and my temperature rose extremely quick. All I remember was my parents putting me in our car and racing me to the hospital. I woke up covered in ice in what my young mind thought was a big refrigerator. I was later told that I was technically dead for almost 90 seconds and that the ice was to bring down my extremely high temperature and NOT to preserve my body.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  11. Robert Gray

    In November 2001, I was 21 years old, with my life going nowhere but down hill. I was driving back from a party, it was raining & I flipped over 7 times into an embankment on a ranch in Texas, getting knocked out and being stranded inside the upside-down vehicle.
    Four hours later I awaken to the smell of gas and my cell phone ringing. I answer and it's my mom, she tells me she is worried. I tell her everything is OK and I'll call her back. I manage to pull myself out of the car, call 911, sit next to this TOTALED vehicle, and walk to the ambulance. The Border Patrol and Police had never seen anything like it and have the person WALK OUT. I flipped over 7 times and I walk away. I took that as a sign that I should be doing bigger things. Three months later I got a full scholarship to UT-Austin, where I live now and work in Graphic Design/Web Marketing.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  12. Rachel

    My 48 year old sister who lives in an affluent area where women compete to look perfect, had been on a quest to "get in shape and lose 10-15 lbs." That turned into over 15% of her normal body weight. She was counting calories, and eating very little. She was jogging 5 miles a day, working out at the gym 2 hours a day and taking a variety of dance classes (= exercise bulimia...burning off the daily calories with excessive excercise regimes). She had a heart attack August 30th and is in a rehabilitation center. She might be blind, paralyzed on her right side (she is right handed) but we don't know yet.
    She is off the breathing apparatus and might need to be aspirated the rest of her life (we don't know). She is trying to get up to walk but she cannot find her balance. She remembers her past. However, she suffers from short term memory loss. However, each time I see her, I see a small improvement. A month ago the neurologist told us she had "no brain acitivity and would live in a vegetative state the rest of her life." She has proved them wrong.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  13. Joanne Pesa

    Four yrs ago, went to dinner with hubby, he ate everything 'bad' I had broiled salmon, broccoli etc. He had to rush me to the ER in Englewood Fl. (They saved my life) I was having the classic (not for a woman though) Heart Attack symtoms. Heavy in chest, sweating, and a very, very sharp pain in left arm. (unbearable) I told him, to this day don't know why, on the way to the hospital, if I don't make it keep calling my name.
    When he left the ER to call the kids and the charge nurse was passing I sat up and said, "I feel like I'm gonna pass out"! That was the last I remember until I was with my mom, dad and two brothers that had passed on years ago. They looked wonderful and were talking amongst themselves as I was trying to get their attention.
    Mom said, "I told her to stop smoking years ago"..Dad said, "Yes, she finally did, but I bet it was all that good Italian food I fried". Then my brothers chimed in with words of wisdom and reminded me, it wasn't time for me yet..I wanted to stay of course, but wanted to come back to my husband, children and grandchildren, so they had to paddle me again to get me back the second time. That's when I heard my husband calling my name over and over...I was back..and good to go! Feeling wonderful after quadruple by pass..I feel I have cheated death and in a longer afraid. I feel blessed everyday.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  14. Eric

    Cheating death?!? After receiving a diagnosis gal stones and a follow up misdiagnosis of pancreatic cancer I had 6 major surgeries in 2 months to remove and re-route my pancreas, 1/2 of my stomach, a large section of bowel and gal bladder. I was on "Deaths' Doorstep" several times according to my spouse and mother, I was unconscious and don't remember much just bits and pieces although I felt loved. A year later I can not gain weight, and am scary skinny, and still recovering from serious complications. I really can't work, I don't have the stamina. I may have cheated death but my quality of life is definitely not what it was before I went into the hospital.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  15. Jeff Barbour

    As a teenager I was attending an Outward Bound School in ME. One of the trials was a drown proofing course. For the final exam,my hands were tied behind my back and I had to swim laps, and other tests. The final one was to dive down 8' and grab a cloth ring in my teeth.

    At that point I was so exhausted that i gulped water and actually drowned. The experience was really quite beautifier. I saw bright colors and I had a very peaceful feeling, almost a relief after the rest of the test.

    When a hand came down to pull me out, I didn't want to go but was in no condition to struggle. I was revived with mouth to mouth and am now here, some 40 years later to tell the tale.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  16. Jessica Cooper

    2 years ago, I was a fit, health, 37 year old mother of 2, on vacation in Hawaii with my Husband. I was at Twin Falls and jumped off a cliff into a small lagoon about 35 feet below. I landed sideways into the water, and the impact and adrenaline rush caused one of 2 mild heart attacks. At the hospital, during an angiogram, I flat-lined....The doctor revived me and I was life-flighted to the big island's Queens Hospital. It was truly a sereal experience and the scariest time in my life!

    The thought of me "dieing" when I had two small children, ages 3 and 5, was devistating! Fortunately, I recoved fully, and I look at the "near death" experience as a blessing in disguise! It put things into perspective for me! It was like "falling in love" all over again, with my husband, my children, and my life! Flat-lining and recovering, has its perks! Life is good!

    October 13, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  17. michael armstrong sr.

    I cheat death every day just trying to survive in this harsh and cruel world.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  18. Rudy lopez

    About six years ago I was living in Stuart Florida. I used to play soccer and couch little league soccer teams. One afternoon while playing a game I had an injury. I torn my right calve apart. ( the gastronimiux muscle split in two ) I could not see a doctor for four days, and my calve swelled up pretty bad. When I finally saw a doctor he gave me the bad news of what had happened to me. Then he mention the possibility of a DVT . But he said to me that the probability of me getting a blood cloth would be "one in a million" because i was young. I was thirty six years old at the time and in great shape. Then i asked him, " just in case" what would be the symptoms of a blood cloth? He went ahead and describe a particular type of pain that i would feel. And he advise me that if that happened i should call 911 in the spot... Three months later i woke up one morning, and while trying to get out of bed, i felt a sharp pain in the back of my knee going through my thigh all the way up to my groin area. I knew right then what it was. I called my doctor, he told me to go to the hospital asap and try not to move my right leg at all. My wife drove me to the nearest hospital, which it was about 10 minutes away. As soon as i got to the emergency drop off there was a stretcher and about three nurses awaiting for me. They immediately hooked me up to an IV line whit blood thinners.. They rushed me inside the hospital took my information and did a sonogram. right there they gave me the bad news; they said that i had a blood cloth and it was on the move. the good news were; that they caught it on time before it got to my lungs.....It took months to sink in and finally realize how lucky i was. I was out of work for about a year while recovering, but today I Am alive and well with my wife and went on and we got back on track along with it.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  19. Sam

    in 1977 Doctors told my parents to enjoy time wth me because i would not make it to reach age 12 im 31 In 2008 Doctors told me i had Mersa And i had a 40 percent chance to live and im still here!

    October 13, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  20. Roxanne

    At 5 weeks of age, I was given an injection of penicillin for an infection. I almost immediately went into anaphylactic shock. My heart was stopped for at least 20 minutes. The doctor performed CPR while his nurse drove us to the hospital. At the hospital they injected adrenaline directly into my heart which restarted my heart. I had seizures for years afterward but I am fine age 40.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  21. Todd Farrell

    I was in eighth grade when I woke up to my airway closing off, both of my lungs subsequently collapsed and I stopped breathing for wht they say was 3-5 minutes before the ambulance got to me. I had ault sized chest tubes put in on site by emergency personel. I was transported to Christiana hospital where my family in the waiting room overheard a staff member tell another that I was not going to make it. I was stabilized but in a coma for 2 weeks and was told that there was a 90 % or better chance of paralysis. I received amazig care at A.I. Dupont hospital for children where I was transfered, and two weeks later woke up with no paralysis or defecits. I am now a nurse and realize how important healthcare professionals are in so many ways.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  22. Jennifer

    In 2007 I was excercising a racehorse from the gate. The horse got spooked shortly after breaking and dumped me on the back of my head while in a full sprint. It shattered my neck and instantly paralyzed me. I was fully awake and aware of what had happened. I went thru neurosurgery and miracoulously recovered completely from quadraplegia! The doctors said I should not have survived the impact or ever have walked again but I did. Now I'm in college.

    October 13, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  23. Camilla

    I was 15 years old. I wanted to commit suicide. I decided to take a bottle of sleeping pills that belonged to my mother. I laid down to die. I remember a voice saying, "Get up!" I told the voice, "I can't." The voice said again, "Get up!" I told the voice again, "I can't". The voice said to me a 3rd time, "Get up!" I didn't tell the voice that I couldn't get up. I remember trying very hard to get out of bed and when I tried my body felt like a ton (dead weight). I managed to get my heavy body out of bed and as I moved one body part after another, I could feel the rest of my body begin to function. Here I am today at 48 years old. Thinking about that night and that voice because when I woke up, there was no one there.

    October 13, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  24. Sue

    At age 19, I was in an accident, had a fractured skull, cerebral hemmorage, and a list of other injuries. My parents were told that I would most likely die, but if I did survive, I would be a vegetable, since I was brain dead. Back then, "brain death" was not classified as "death" (fortunately for me!) When I came out of the coma I was (mentally) about the same person I was before the accident. Years later I had an MRI that indicates my frontal lobes are mush (brifrontal encephalomalacia). Now I am 62, parent of twins, grandparent of one, college graduate, and thankful that the accident happened before the definition of "death" was changed. If it had happened after the definition changed, they would have pulled the plug once they discovered that I was brain dead.

    October 13, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  25. Peter Miller

    In 2004 I had an accident in which my colon was torn. After an emergency operation I was put into a 4 week coma. I had what I can only explain as a near death experience, after finding myself in a monastery on top of a mountain and asking the question “Am I Dead?” they replied “No, but things are different now” it was then that I fell into Hell, the preverbal, Biblical Hell. I spent a great deal of time there going through unimaginable terror. At the end I was raised out of Hell by . . . God?, Jesus, an Angle or other great being. There was music and images put in my mind, such as “I was with you throughout it all”, I was given light, love and hope returned. After that I woke up.

    I would like to share my experience because I believe it may help someone else.

    October 13, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  26. Deanna Paxston

    I have cheated death. In 1989 I had a ruptured brain anerizum. After 19 brain surgeries, being in coma for a year. I am still here. I was pronoucned dead several times but my Mother would not allow the doctors to stop working on me. The anerizum and come left me unable to eat, breath on my own, walk, talk, My wonderful Mother took a 40 year old infant. I have since learned to talk, walk, breath and eat. I recovered enough to take care of both parents untill they passed on at age 88 and 93. They were in their mid 70's when they took care of me. Thanks to them the great doctors at Shane's Hospital in Gainsville, Fl. and most of all GOD. I am a live and happy Deanna

    October 13, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  27. Boyce Jenness

    In 2002 I had a major heart attack(s) and the crash cart was used 4 of the 5 times I had to be revived. I recall the first time vividly. I somehow knew that I was dying, I sensed a total separation from my body and surroundings as wave after wave took me deeper into a state of euphoria. I recall thinking " Oh my God, I'm dying.......hmmmm, so this is what it feels like". No sadness, no remorse or thoughts of my loved ones-only a sense of total peace. I no longer have ANY fear of death.

    My doctors don't understand why I now show little damage to the heart and my stress test registers as that of a 35 year old(I was 54 at the time).

    October 13, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  28. Wanda Reed

    On July 31 of this year, my husband (Don) and his brother Robert were on their way to town to tend to some business..My husband was at the wheel..While driving, he collapsed against the driver's door..His brother (Robert) being in the passenger seat, had to take control of the steering wheel, and get his left leg over the console to put on the brake, "while my husband was still slumped in the drivers seat..Robert was able to get the car stopped to the side of the road, and flagged down another driver to help put my husband in the passengers seat..Robert then took control of the car and rushed my husband to the emergency room..The emergency room (Shasta Regional Medical Center) "immedately took my husband in, and started working on him, while he was still unconscious"..The head doctor said my husband suffered a "coronary arrest and when brought in was clinically dead for 8-10 minutes..The doctors could only assure me, that they were doing all they could for my husband..That because of the delayed time (8-10 minutes) that if my husband survived, "he" might experience some "brain damage"..Well I am so glad to say by the "surprise of the tending doctors, my husband survived and only showed some short term memory!!".."Infact, it got around the hospital and my husband was nicknamed "The Miracle Man".."I am so happy my husband came through this horrible experience..Just wish his short term memory, included forgetting how onary he could be with me prior to the attack!!".. "Ha Ha!!"..As the song goes, "I'm The Luckiest Girl In The Whole USA"..I still have the love of my life with me..

    October 13, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  29. Chris Hosto

    I was 4 years old & visiting friends when their mother was lighting the 1st floor pilot light. The house filled up with LP gas & then exploded. The mother was able to make it through the flames to rescue her 2 children & exit the house through the door, which had blown off (leaving me behind in the fire). With the floor in flames & parts of my body on fire, I saw the direction where the mother went & made my way to that door.

    By the time I got out, that family was already out of sight. It was a 1/4 mile walk back to the nearest house (my home) & when I made it back on my own, I was instructed to lay out by the country highway to wait for the ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, it slowed down, then sped back up–leaving a 4 y/o boy, blackened, burned w/ 1st, 2nd & 3rd degree burns & in shock laying by the street.

    Later we were told that the mother was inside & she fainted.

    October 13, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  30. Edna Trawick -Arizona

    December 28, 6 years ago my daughter-in -law had a eart attack 35 miles from a mojor medical center, she died 6 times on the way there, one of the times she was gone too long and has brain damage, has been diagnosed with anoxia. Alive but has no quality of life. I recently read that ambulances now have the ability to lower the core temperture and possibly spare the patient the fate that my daugher-in law suffered. When the core temperature is lowered the body requires less oxygen and lessens the affects of time without breathing and oxygen,

    October 13, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  31. Kathleen

    Less than a year ago, my thirteen year old daughter saved my life by calling 911 when I had a full cardiac arrest and basically died right in front of her eyes. The dispatcher quickly sent the fire department to our residence, and the crew did an amazing job! CPR was given all the way to the hospital; they had to shock me three times enroute. The prognosis was still not promising, so I was placed in a hypothermic coma in an attempt to preserve my brain cells. My family was initially told that it was unlikely I would ever regain consciousness. They were also warned that if a miracle occurred and I lived, there would probably be extensive brain damage. A month later, I was writing two papers for my college classes and finished the semester with a 4.0 GPA!
    The cardiac arrest was caused by an electrical problem that was suddenly aggravated by the onset of a flu-like virus. I was forty-eight years old at the time and otherwise fairly healthy with the exception of having experienced a pretty stressful life previously. After working full-time, many of those years as an EMT/Emergency Medical 911 dispatcher, we lost our home in 2004 due to a series of family crises that unfortunately occurred. Now, I am very grateful we were forced to relocate to this community where I received such amazing care when my heart acted up. I never imagined though, that my own life would ever depend on the quick response of another 911 dispatcher and fire department. One of my happiest moments was to attend the fire department banquet two months after my cardiac. It was with a lot of gratitude and joy that I helped to present awards to my youngest daughter and the crew who saved my life!

    October 13, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  32. Sandi Callahan

    I am trying to tell a cheating death story but can't find where. Hopefully this is where you meant. My son was in an accident in 1995 in Mobile AL and severed his Aorta from his heart and lived. Not only did he make it to the hospitol alive he waited for hours through xrays and tests until they found what they believed was a rupture. When opened up Dr. O'Gorman found it was severed. No-one can explain this. His doctor said one of two things happened, either his muscle in his chest was solid enough to hold the aorta up against the heart and only allowed a seepage or the only other explanation is that God had to have litterally reached into his chest and held it up there until they could find it and fix it. It was a miracle that he came out of this without being paralized or worse. He was walking again and totally able to take care of himself in less than a year after the accident. Not a sign of his nerve damage other than when he has to take alot of steps. I am so proud of his fight to get his life back and I am thankful for Dr. O'Gorman. Now if anyone can cheat the Grimm Reaper better than that I would love to hear the story. You are supposed to have less than 5 minutes to live after that injury.

    October 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  33. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    Cheating Death is only for the privilege economically and no one else.

    October 14, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  34. Rita

    I was only three years old when I nearly died from a ruptured appendix. When I woke up after having my appendix removed, I said to my mom, "God is real, Jesus is real, the Angels are real." I truly believe that I died and came back.

    October 15, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  35. Claudio Marcio

    If we want to seriously change Wall Street and get to the real issue and organically fix the compensation problem, the solution is easy. The U.S. Gov't and all it's financial agencies along with all of the other supernationals in the world need to get together and come up with regulation that wipes away over the counter derivatives and brings them online and clear through an exchange, just as stocks do. By doing that, transparency is addressed, something that has always been lacking in the financial markets. At the same time, margin requirements can be imposed, just like listed Futures and Options. If we do this, banks will not be able to superleverage their balance sheets without putting up any cash, which is what OTC derivatives essentially allow banks to do. The OTC derivative market is a $500 Trillion market (Notional Size) and leaving it unregulated will eventually bring down the worlds economy and humanity as we know it unless more FIAT money like the dollar is printed to cover up the mess (look at AIG/Lehman as an example). Regulate the OTC derivative markets multi-laterally with all nations and you organically resolve the compensation problem because traders and executives on Wall Street will not be able to print money by PVing futures potential cash flows and paying themselves crazy bonuses today.

    Claudio Marcio

    October 22, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  36. Mike

    Re: Christina's post October 13th, 2009 9:30 am ET

    Coma is very different from brain death. If she had been pronounced to be in a coma she would not have been pronounced dead. Either your neighbors misunderstood something, or someone at the hospital used terms sloppily. Brain death can only be declared following a very specific protocol conducted by two experienced neurologists in a hospital setting. No one has ever risen from brain death. Its not in the medical liturature.

    October 26, 2009 at 11:16 pm |