15 Doctors Tell the Story of Their One-in-a-Million Patient

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Okay, not in enough detail to violate HIPPA, but in enough detail to make our jaws drop in disbelief – because these 15 doctors have seen some actual miracles (and whatever the opposite of a miracle is, as well).

#15. The third oldest.

I had to tell a 104 year old patient that he was only the third oldest patient on the ward. He was really disappointed!

#14. Luckily.

I’m a nurse, and this happened at the hospital I work at, in the car park.

A staff member got out his car and it started rolling, he reached in to pull the handbreak. From where I was sitting in my car I didn’t notice anything other than the car move, and the guy jump back in his car. A few minutes later a lady walks by and starts screaming.

Turns out he had been pinned half inside his car by his car door, as his car had rolled towards the car next to him. He was unconscious, blue, not breathing.

A bunch of us tried breaking into the car next to him to move it, and eventually when there was about 20 of us we actually managed to push his car back enough for ppl to pull him out.

Luckily this happened at a hospital so the crash team had already been called. They did CPR. He lived.

#13. Just a headache.

Had a patient come in with headaches and she was a young woman. Her entire body would go numb with these headaches. Got a CT, she has 3 separate tumors in her brain

#12. They talk about it in textbooks.

Seen a patient whose triglycerides were so high that it gave him pancreatitis. They talk about it in the textbooks but it is extremely rare. It was due to a combination of causes, including drugs he was taking for HIV. Now the crazy thing was when we drew blood it actually separated and there was a supernatant of fat that you could see in the vial.

#11. Literally no complications.

Had a very sick child with influenza. Spent 6 months in my ICU. Had a month of blood gases that were not compatible with life. Had multiple collapsed lungs. He’s currently in 6th grade- no ventilator, no tracheostomy, literally no complications for the long term.

#10. A full recovery.

I’m a speech therapist/ speech language pathologist. I was a student when I saw a person who had fallen 30 feet through a disused factory roof. They had skull fractures, multiple strokes, multi organ trauma and multiple spinal fractures and had a tracheotomy.

I was there to assess speech and review eating and drinking. Reading their notes I imagined there would be serious issues.

They were able to eat and drink with only slight texture modifications. They could speak using a speaking valve and had no aphasia (problems with understanding or finding words) or dysarthria (unclear speech). They seemed slightly amused and bored of my assessment- took my notebook and pen and wrote “I can write too” in flawless handwriting and handed it back.

I finished placement not long afterwards but they were expected to make a full recovery!

#9. His hunch made a difference.

Husband is a doctor and one night came how with a surreal look on his face. He had been seeing a patient for a bit and noticed that although in his mid 20s, had few signs he went through puberty. The patient didn’t mind his state all too much but my husband believes that medicine should improve your life, not just keep it going. So, on a shot-in-the-dark hunch to simply improve a patient’s life, my husband sent him for an MRI. The patient had a previously benign and now malignant brain tumor suppressing the part of the brain that controls puberty. The shot-in-the-dark effort to see why the patient hadn’t gone through puberty by late 20s led to a very early brain tumor detection.

As a family doctor and a still a resident, he couldn’t believe how much a hunch made a difference one person’s life.

Edit: I showed him the outpouring of support this comment gave him and, although very exhausted, he is extremely elated. Thank you everyone. I personally can tell it really gave him a confidence boost. Again, thank you!

#8. Quite a knot.

During my residency, I worked in a unit which did a lot of Urology. We had a series of regular patients with urethral strictures (narrowing of the urinary passage) and they used to visit from time to time to get their strictures dilated. These veterans would eventually learn how to catheterise themselves. One of the patients, a young boy of 14 whose original injury had been a pelvic fracture in a road traffic accident, came to the ER on a Saturday in considerable discomfort. I was on call and asked him what happened. “I passed this catheter in and I can’t get it out.” What he was using wasn’t really a conventional urinary catheter which has a balloon at the tip to keep it in place (that can sometimes get stuck if the channel to deflate the balloon gets clogged). But that was not the problem here. He was using an infant feeding tube because the conventional catheters were too big for his narrow passage. The feeding tube is just a simple tube with no swellings and no mechanism to retain itself in the bladder so I didn’t really believe him. However, I found that he was right. I couldn’t get the catheter out either. The catheter was fitting so snugly in the stricture that he couldn’t pass urine and his bladder had filled up like a balloon about to burst. We took him to the OR and did a supra-pubic cystostomy (basically made an opening into the bladder from the abdomen). This relieved the pressure in the bladder. Next we passed a scope down the SPC and found that the feeding tube that he had used as a catheter had gone into the bladder and got knotted around itself. Every time we tugged on it, the knot was getting tighter. We had to cut it off below the knot to get the rest of the catheter out. We got the knot out from the SPC.


Inserted a urinary catheter to a female patient.

She complains of pain where the bladder is situated, and it was distended. No drainage per catheter.

When we pulled the catheter out, there it was – a worm which got stuck inside the tube.


#6. I’d rather be boring.

I was diagnosed with an ocular melanoma (itself quite rare) that went into tumour necrosis. My doctor said “1 in 5 million”. I’d rather be boring.

#5. The bullet had grazed him.

Was operating on a pregnant lady that came in having been shot in the belly. OB delivered the kid through our incision and the baby had a perfect line across his shoulder where the bullet had grazed him. He was totally fine and didn’t need stitches. Mom lived too.

Edit: wow thanks for the gold!

#4. The heart started to beat.

Not rare, actually the opposite, but something we don’t see too often. I had a patient with early stage pregnancy and some minor bleeding. I did ultrasound and saw normal fetus but no heartbeat and told her that it was likely due to pregnancy just being at an early stage. I checked her ovaries and told her that I could print a picture of the fetus. I moved the scan back to the fetus and there was a clear heartbeat. During the minute or so that I was scanning the ovaries the heart started to beat.

#3. Natural immunity.

My mother ( now retired ) was a GP in the middle of nowhere, in south west France.

In the early ‘90s, she had her first HIV cases. With the med at the time, they did not last long.

Except one.

Clearly HIV, but not developing AIDS at all. He was one of the few people with natural immunity.

#2. No relation to Mad Cow.

Creutzfeld-Jacob disease without relation to mad cow, the prevalence of which is about one in a million persons worldwide yearly.

Edit: to everyone interested in this subject I highly recommend “The family that couldn’t sleep” by DT Max. It starts out as an investigation into an Italian family with inherited fatal familial insomnia (FFI). This is a horrible prion disease that destroys the part of your brain that allows you to sleep. You die after 6-8 terrible months with complete loss of the ability to sleep, panic attacks, rapid onset dementia, and some weeks in a permanent limbo between waking and sleeping. The book also contains lots of information on Scrapie (in sheep), Kuru (in cultures that ritually eat their dead) and mad cow disease. It is very well written and understandable to people without medical education.

#1. Well he survived.

Not a doctor but a fireman/emt here. We got called on a traffic accident one night and when we got there there was a guy hanging naked from a branch 9 feet in the air and a pool of blood below him. What happened as it was explained to us later, the car he was driving lost control, started spinning in the road and eventually hit a barrier and came to a sudden stop. Due to the centrifugal motion of the car and the fact he wasn’t wearing a seat belt he came flying of the back window of his car, landed on top of the tree and kept falling downwards losing clothes on his way out.

So we get him down, put him on a stretcher and send him to a hospital, sure enough he was dead as there were no vital signs. Well he survived and he comes and visits at the station every now and then.

So many reasons I could never be a doctor!