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A true medical miracle

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Medical Correspondent

As doctors, we don’t like to use the term “miracle” too much.

Truth is if you look hard enough you will find a reasonable explanation as to why one person survives, when so many others die. When Randy McCloy was pulled out of the Sago Mine and subsequently examined at the hospital, I could tell the doctors weren’t too optimistic.

I traveled to West Virginia and they told me that too much carbon monoxide had invaded his blood stream, and for too long. That carbon monoxide had stripped away precious oxygen from his brain and caused what could best be described as a stroke of his whole brain. The fact that he was alive was remarkable and perhaps best attributed to his young age and associated resilience.

Then, over the last three months, there were incremental rays of hope. In what seemed a last ditch effort, Randy was transported to another hospital and was placed in a hyperbaric chamber, the same kind used to treat scuba divers when they get the Bends.

The idea was to force the oxygen into his blood stream and knock some of the lingering carbon monoxide out. He was also given DHA, a fatty acid, with the idea that it could rebuild the coating around some of his severely damaged nerve connections. Slowly, Randy started to awaken. A move here and there, a slight utterance that might be a word. And then today, I sat reveling with all of you as I watched him walk out under his own power, smile, and hold a news conference.

Sure, he didn’t say much and his right arm and leg still seem weak, but he is very much alive and is very much Randy. The miracle of Randy’s recovery may lie deep in a hyperbaric chamber somewhere or in the thoughtfulness of a doctor who thought fatty acids could help repair the brain. Perhaps it was his own desire to fight for his life or it could just be that his wife Anna never left his bedside, not once, in the entire time he was ill. So, as doctors, just like anybody else, we enjoy the good stories and we are happy from time to time to call them miracles.

Good luck Randy.

Read the article on Anderson Cooper 360 Blog

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