Medical Professionals Share Their Best 'How The Hell Are You Not Dead' Stories


Lazarus is that you?!!

Life is full of surprises. One of the greatest can be seeing someone resurrect from the great beyond. That's usually a fantastic soap opera trope but it can happen. Also the things we all can survive, witnessed by those in medicine, is astonishing. The human body and spirit can be miraculous.

Redditor u/I_am-toast wanted to hear from medical professionals out there about some miracles they've witnessed by asking.... Doctors, nurses, and EMTs of reddit. What is your best "How the hell are you not dead" moment?



Guy with psych issues tried to kill himself by swallowing 4 razor blades. Don't know why they opted to not surgically retrieve them, but guy sat up in our ICU for about a week until he passed all of them. I still can't believe they didn't shred his insides. shanbie_


I work in a neuro trauma ICU. I had a failed suicide attempt come in where a guy tried to shoot himself through the top of the mouth. For whatever reason, he failed and the round ended up blowing his entire face off. The bullet and his teeth fragmented and were peppered all over the inside of his brain. Upon arrival, he was following commands and kept motioning with his fingers in the shape of a gun against his head.

His family asked him if he saying he wanted to shoot himself again to which he shook his head yes. From this, the family decided that they wanted to withdraw all life preserving measures and just let him go. It took almost a week before his brain edema became severe enough for him to herniate and die. Jabronito

Not yet. 

I got another one! A call out to an attempted suicide. Get there, cleared by police etc. to find this guy calmly sitting on the couch with fresh ligature marks on his neck. He proceeded to tell us before trying to hang himself with an outdoors extension cord (that snapped), he'd also taken a bottle of pills (no effect). Not your time, dude. I really hope he's doing ok now. toe_beans_


A woman stuck in her bathtub for 3 days. standing water, skin sloughing, totally dehydrated. She LOOKED dead. Worst part, in an effort to unclog the tub, she had been pouring drano into the water she was sitting in.

She was also overweight, so getting her out of there was a mess. Once we finally did, she told the medic she was "fine" and didn't want to go to the hospital. We had to convince her. Unreal. saidthesea

A Burr Hole?


I had a young guy, mid-20s, involved in a motorvehicle accident. He was alert and conscious despite the high impact injury. CT scan of his brain showed a massive subdural hemorrhage, which if it was in any other person, would have caused a midline shift (the brain matter gets pushed to the other side, i.e. left to right or vice versa). Luckily for him, he had a skull fracture at the area of the bleed, which acted as a 'burr hole' (a medical procedure that we perform to prevent such midline shift from happening), thus saving his life (or his brain, for that matter). two5kid

What's Left?

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, a lot of the soldiers would end up getting hurt in combat disproportionately to everyone else. Once I saw this guy come back from the front who had been shot from armpit to armpit, shot in the head and stepped on a small IED that blew his leg off as well as one of his hands, he had lacerations all over and was bleeding quite bad.

The ANA medics and doctors didn't even bother to put a turny on his leg, they just sent him on over to us with basically no first aid done. All of this while being transferred from heli to heli and an hour + passing by. Somehow he made it to us alive and sort of coherent enough to look around. Besides the missing leg and his arms being messed up he lived and was "ok." othersgain

A Good Ole Time....

Worked as a phleb tech in a hospital for a while. Craziest thing I ever saw was this guy that came in having overdosed on drugs.

What drugs you ask? Literally all of them. Alcohol, cocaine, MDMA, opioids, benzodiazepines, k2, and a myriad of other things.

I went to draw his blood for some tests and he asked me if I could get him more drugs from the nurse. I told him he would need to talk to the nurse about that. I ended up having to draw blood from the palm of his hand because his veins were so shot.

'Twas a fun night. ItsThe_GoodLookinGuy

Through the Head.....

Guy was working at a factory. Somehow there was an accident and a 2" wide 3' long board got shot THROUGH his head. Entered through tip of his nose and exited just below his skull on the right side. Face was a mess. Came in from another hospital intubated to see if our neurosurgeon could remove the board. We all assumed he was likely neurologically devastated permanently.... we cut down the board and took him to CT to see what we were dealing with... we were waiting for CT to result we realized guys sedation had worn off and he was awake and could follow commands! You couldn't tell he was awake because his face was so swollen and macerated!

We quickly reseated him. Turns out board missed nearly everything important. Messed up his internal carotid and lateral mass of C1 vertebrae... but missed his spinal cord by about 2mm.

He walked out of the hospital 5 days later after several big surgeries to fix his face and IJ. Neurosurgeon said he'd have a crooked neck forever but otherwise would be fine. ninjagorilla

So Many Shots....

Triple GSW rolled in one night. First guy was shot in the butt, second guy shot in the arm, 3rd got shot dead center of his chest. I sent the butt guy to my least experienced team, the arm guy had some difficulty breathing so figured bullet traveled to his lung so I sent him to my more experienced team. Then I saw the third guy with a big red circle of blood in the middle of his chest and knew that he was gonna be mine.

Chest xray was negative. No hemo or pneumo but also no bullet. Rushed him to CT.... Nothing! Shipped him to the local trauma center. A friend who works there said they let him sober up and then sent him home. ChaplnGrillSgt



My mother stabilized the neck of a drunk teenager that fell 40 feet out of a tree. He landed on a rock face up and split his skull in half (I met him years after this incidence) and had to get a metal plate on his skull. My mother described holding his neck and said she had to hold back vomiting because of how the back of his head was moosh, her gloved hands basically were holding a pile of shattered brain, bone, and skin yet he was alive. She met him and said she was happy she could help but told me later she was sad he turned out a moron (still fully functioning but a bar fly). Any other stories of the risen out there? Leosces


Nurse in a clinic in a rough area (well for us lots of street people, drug seekers, refugees)

In comes a dude for regular check up and I notice that he had a blood streaking down his face - not fast but definitely something there.

So into the room we go - with his wife - and off comes the hat. Now he had had a TBI and lost about 1/2 his brain and chunk of his skull so there is definite issues with cognition. Add that his wife his an addict life isn't too great.

Anyway - off comes the hat and out rolls the most unholy smell of rotten meat. Turns out that incisions on his scalp had become infected. As the infection progressed he had necrosis of the wound and the wound edges became separate. So this dude had necrosis of his wound and now I could see sections of his brain matter and rotting scalp.

A definite holy crap moment. Dude ended up going to the hospital and getting treatment and skin grafts. Is still around. quickpeek81

Damn Drugs....

Heroin addict and type 1 diabetic I saw a few times in the ER. She would come in nearly dead from diabetic ketoacidosis, since it seems she would only inject heroin and neglected to do that whole insulin injection thing. She'd get somewhat stabilized and sent up to the ICU, then as soon as it was physically possible she would leave against medical advice.

Sometimes she would leave AMA because she couldn't stand having her shooter's abscesses drained, so when she would come in comatose a few days later the ER docs would drain it really quick while pumping her full of fluids and insulin. With her I learned that a venous blood pH of 6.8 was the lowest it could measure, as she just got <6.8. She also had a glucose of over 1400, which is the highest I've ever seen.

I didn't see her for a number of months and had assumed she died, which is a sad assumption to make about someone in their mid 20s. Then she came back in recently with the same, although less severe, problems as before. It's amazing what some bodies will endure. StillKpaidy

7 Attempts...


Not one of the above but in my line of work I met someone who had attempted suicide 7 times that could have reasonably lead to a death. I was amazed that she had been saved so many times. HypotheticalParallel

Just Chillin'....

ER Scribe here

We had a young guy come in with his girlfriend complaining of feeling slightly short of breath. He seemed pretty low acuity, so he ended up on a wall bed. ER was pretty busy that night so he sat for a while. All of a sudden the nurse runs up to me and the doc and says this guy has a tension pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

We check his vitals and they're all surprisingly normal (pulse ox was 95+, HR was sub 100). Meanwhile this guy is literally just snapping selfies with his girlfriend. We did an XR later on, and boy he had a seriously collapsed lung, but was somehow just chillin' like nothing was wrong. ghayoorarshad

The Heart Race. 

I was having problems with my heart racing at irregular intervals. Two dozen times a year or more, thought it was normal. One day it happened at work and I collapsed (can't carry gear upstairs when your heart is beating so fast it can't pull oxygen from your lungs). Boss made me see a doctor. They put me on a take home heart monitor to see if they could catch it happening and eventually they did.

Went in to see the doctor and I don't think I ever saw a medical professional so freaked out looking at a chart. I got scheduled for surgery pretty quickly after that.

EDIT 1 : don't remember what the problem was called. They described it as an extra bit of electrical wiring in my heart that was causing the problem. They went in and burned that all out with lasers. I'm fine now.

EDIT 2 : Supraventricular Tachycardia is what it was called. I went and looked up my old medical records because a lot of people keep guessing what it was and that was what it was called. So for those people who guessed SVT, you win internet points. Kajin-Strife

You Live! 

Not a medical provider. A friend was looking a bit pale. She was getting out breath when walking (had to take a break when walking less than one block). We convinced her to see a doc -- she wanted to go to her PCP who could not get her until early next week.

She goes to her appointment and they draw blood. Her O2 sats are fine. She goes home.

And, the next morning drives into work. Her PCP office calls freaking out -- her hematocrit is super low. She gets directed to the ER where she gets four units of blood.

When she sees a GI doc, they ask her if the medical notes are accurate -- she says yes. He replies with something along the lines of, "And yet I see you here, alive." IIRC, said it was the lowest he had ever seen outside of an ICU. The cause was thought to be a very very slow GI bleed.... She is fine now. tropicaldiver



My son got severe food poisoning a year ago and by the time we made it to the ER his muscles were seizing and he was starting to act combative and hallucinate. His potassium came back at 2, 3.... every single doc and nurse that came in questioned if it was accurate and freaked when they confirmed it. 4 days in ICU later he had bounced back.

The docs couldn't believe it. Only later we learned how very serious it was. The doctor finally told us that by all accounts he should have gone into cardiac arrest and died. Only the fact that he was a 20 yr old healthy Male probably saved him. Telegrand

The Headaches...

15 years an an EMT. We responded to an elderly woman who had fallen & cracked her head open. She was found by a friend/family member. We had no idea how long she was down. She was unconscious when we arrived & we honestly thought she was dead.

We found her face up in the biggest pool of blood I have ever seen. Like seriously.... it looked like all of her blood.

Not only that, but it had been a while because the blood had started to coagulate. It was like walking through a kiddie pool full of blood pudding.

When we started to examine her... she came to and was not only calm, but pretty nonchalant. "I must have bumped my head."

Literally, the first thought in my head was "How the heck are you not dead?!" ElBomberoLoco

So many pills... 

I was a nurse at my counties prison. The area was having drug busts every 2 or 3 days it seemed. We get a batch of 10 in and everyone cleared perfectly except for this one woman. She was nodding in and out of consciousness and slurred her words.

So I get one of the CO's to obtain a urine sample to do a spot drug test. Sure enough the whole test lit up. So she's placed in detox for a few days and then we would retest her.

A few days pass and she's not getting any better, in fact she got a lot worse.

So we drug test her again and the test came back positive for everything from THC to Benzodiazepines. I have the CO's search her thoroughly incase we missed something and sure enough this lady had 2 extra large condoms stuffed up her "jail purse" and they both where torn open and her vaginal canal was absorbing all those drugs. We counted a total of 200 pills she was carrying, by all rights this girl should of been dead but she recovered after that. Travis123083

Marital Discourse.... 

Shotgun to the testicles via wife who found her husband was cheating.

Edit: here's the story....

I'm an EMT and we got a house call for a guy screaming bloody murder. When we arrived we saw the wife opened the door, calmly, looked like she was in shock with wide eyes and stiff movements. Lead us to the bedroom bathroom where we find her husband crying, bent over and wobbly, holding one of his testicles in his hand half torn and the other practically a bloody strand.

Crying as you see shots on his inner thigh and his balls so frail if he let go they would just rip off. We turn around to see the wife holding a shotgun, calmly (in shock) on the bed, saying in a calm voice over and over again "I did it, I did it, I did it" over and over again. The police officers with us brought their guns out and detailed the woman. The whole bathroom was such a mess and this all happened in the span of a few minutes. RockyMang

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at


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