13 Doctors Talk About Patients Who Should Really Be Dead, but Somehow Have Survived

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Doctors obviously see all kinds of crazy calamities on a daily basis. It’s part of their job.

But sometimes they’re even blown away by patients who probably should’ve kicked the bucket for one reason or another.

But humans are resilient and they have a tendency to bounce back from almost anything.

Take a look at these crazy stories from AskReddit users.

1. This is bad.

“Belligerent guy comes in, in a wheel chair. He doesn’t want to be here, he’s fucking fine, the party was good (EMS) fucked his evening up.

Ems brought him in from a bush party, the guy had a chainsaw stuck in his thigh and shin. Literally jammed in his leg. And severe burns after falling into the bon fire on half his body. Guy was hammered, didn’t seemed bothered by the fact he was severely burned or had a chain saw in his leg.

He ended up losing the leg below his knee, and got a nasty infection from the burn.

But still. If his leg wasn’t completely fucked, I am convinced he’d have gotten up and tried to fight people.”

2. This is really sad.

“I was on home call for ER in a small town, got a call from the ER nurse one night and she was like “EMS brought someone in here and they think she might be dead?” I was like….”….well, IS she?!” She was like “I don’t know.”

This was a seasoned RN, by the way, so I was like, well, guess we’re treating this is a Code Blue kind of situation, so without any further information, I jump into my car and rush over to the hospital. Once I got there, I realized why the triage nurse was so confused.

In the trauma bay, lay what appeared to be skeletonized remains under a blanket. The person felt warm to touch, so I opened their eye, and a yellow, wrinkled, shrunken eyeball stared at me and then suddenly MOVED. Potassium of 1, for those familiar with lab values.

The backstory was extreme self-neglect/depression combined with caregiver neglect. Weighed in at 67 lbs at a height of about 5’5″. We actually resuscitated her, very aggressively, and unbelievably, after about 8 litres of fluid, she started speaking a word or two at a time and recognized her daughter.”

3. Never seen anything like it.

“My father’s doctor couldn’t believe a) he didn’t need to amputate his feet and b) he was still alive. Dad had “brittle diabetes”. His pancreas would kick in & out due to a congenital deformity. At 82, he had significant heart issues, including angina enlarged heart & clogged arteries.

One day, his feet went black. (Not just bluish, or grey; black as charcoal) rushed to emergency. We were told they would amputate, but “to say our goodbyes”. Dad refused surgery. Said he’d rather be dead, at his age. Hours later, his feet were pink. We took him home that morning. Doctor actually apologized for upsetting us, but said he’d never seen anything like it.”

4. Really blew my mind.

“Currently in residency, but this was a patient I saw in medical school:

This one has more to do with a patient’s past medical history instead of anything acute. Had one patient in one of my internal medicine rotations who was admitted for hip surgery who was one of the nicest sweetest people I’ve ever met. Her surgery was pretty routine and there were no complications.

In her past medical history, she was diagnosed with stage IV endometrial cancer that had spread to her brain. Apparently she had undergone chemo, radiation, primary tumor resection, and surgery to remove the brain met. She remained cancer free since that period. The fact that she had undergone that whole ordeal and appeared to be mostly healthy and was in remission from her cancer really blew my mind.”

5. Somehow, he’s alive.

“During residency, my ICU patient had to have his chest reopened less than an hour after 6 hour open heart CABG surgery. He needed 12 units of blood, his heart massaged then shocked 4 times. Cardiothoracic surgeon in the ICU operating because no time to go back down to OR.

Was an illicit drug abuser and alcoholic. Nurses called him the “cockroach.” I checked in on him for 4 weeks. He was unresponsive every day. On week 2 zero we had to consult ENT. To take maggots. Out of his nose. I was sure he was a goner after that. Week 3 passed, no change.

Week 4, day 24 I believe, at 6 am, he opens his eyes. I was shocked. He has a permanent trach and ostomy now, but somehow is alive.”

6. How do you function?

“Lady in her mid 30s was in the clinic for a 1 week follow up post foot amputation (diabetes), she was admitted straight from the clinic because her blood glucose was 600mg/dl (normal is 80-120) and the wound was severely infected.

We used super concentrated doses of insulin to bring it back to the 200s. She was on strict diet restrictions and we couldn’t figure out how it wouldn’t drop any lower than 250.

Turns out her kids (teens) had been sneaking giant 64oz sodas and candy bars into the hospital, literally one week after we chopped her foot off because of uncontrolled diabetes. Not exactly a case of “how the fuck did you survive that trauma/disease” but “how the fuck do you even function on your own?””

7. Isn’t that crazy?

“I work in trauma and once had a guy fall off a roof he said he remembered hitting the bars on the scaffolding on the way down. We originally thought he’d fractured his femur but nope just a small hematoma.

He was in bed next to a man who had broken his ribs and had a small C spine fracture when he fell forward picking up his keys.”

8. He’s awake.

“As a med student on my emergency rotation I had a guy brought in who had fallen off a 7th or 8th floor balcony and landed on his head. Essentially DOA and we couldn’t get a blood pressure when he got to the hospital.

As a student my job was to basically stand to the side and squeeze the bajillion bags of blood that went into this dude. His cervical spine was essentially dust on the initial CT scan we got. I figured he probably wouldn’t have made it but about a month later I’m now on my ICU rotation and I see this guy awake and conscious.

Pretty crazy.”

9. You need to have hope.

“We had a guy with a major aortic dissection one night. From the bedside ultrasound, he looked like he had already bled out. He had some chest pain, but he was alert and oriented, and we were shocked he was even still alive. He absolutely shouldn’t have been with how much blood we saw and the size of the dissection

We called the surgeon in, who was really blunt, and explained to the guy he was probably going to die in surgery. He was a young guy, like late forties, he was on a business trip, and it was completely unexpected. He kept trying to call his wife, but it was like 2 am and she wasn’t answering.

He just wanted to talk and tell her goodbye. It was actually pretty devastating to watch. Meanwhile he’s so coherent and alert as if he isn’t actively bleeding out and dying. Most patients we would get in the same situation wouldn’t be conscious or would already be dead.

They swooped him off to surgery before he could contact his wife, and the dude lived. Remembering that story got me through a lot of tough years in the ER, because I think it just reminded me that hope and good outcomes are still out there.”

10. Get a load of this X-ray.

“EMT here.

Brought in a PT who’s (now former) girlfriend stabbed him in the face with a Chef’s knife.

The knife went through his right eye, missed his cranial cavity, and stopped about a mm from his brain stem.

The X-ray was nuts. We showed everyone.”

11. A huge guy.

“My dad is a dcotr and he liked to tell us about the crazy shit he saw, this post made me think of one of those in particular.

Huge guy, linebacker build, came into the trauma ward with a gunshot wound dead center of the chest. He could breathe fine and he had a pulse. So they did a chest Xray and found that the bullet had spent all its energy getting through this guys sternum and was just resting on his pericardium.”

12. A survivor.

“When my mom was in her ER cycle during internship, man with police officers behind him came in the ER. The man was perfectly fine and walking, so my mom and her colleagues were confused. The officers showed them a picture of a crumpled metal piece, which was a car.

It didn’t look like a car at all, just metal trash. The officers told my mom and her colleagues that they rescued the patient from the car, which was lit on fire only a few seconds after they rescued him. The patient didn’t have a single scar on him, was perfectly fine, and got his name around the hospital for being “immortal.””

13. A story about a dog.


Dog hit by a train. It severed the dog’s leg and the dog carried its own leg home. Owner brought dog and leg to the ER.

Leg could not be re-attaches due to significant damage to limb. Dogs do great as tripods though.”

Wow! Some of those folks really are lucky to still be here.

Now we want to hear from you.

Have you ever had a really close call with your health? Or maybe you work in healthcare and you’ve seen something like this?

Please tell us your stories in the comments!