Top 10 medical miracles

From the man who survived falling from a skyscraper to the fellow with a tooth inside his eye, here are 10 true stories of medical magic and majesty that will leave you gobsmacked at just what the humble human body is capable of.

Top 10 medical miracles

The decapitated boy

There's not many patients who recover from being decapitated. But young Jordan Taylor defied the odds when his skull was detached from his spine in a car accident. This is what doctors call an "orthopaedic decapitation" and what laypeople call "seriously not good for you". Incredibly, they were able to re-attach Jordan's head to his neck using titanium, and he's now impossibly alive, agile and back at school.

The man who fell to Earth

Alcides Moreno and his brother were cleaning windows at the top of a New York skyscraper when their scaffolding platform came unhooked and plunged 47 floors to the hard pavement below. His brother died on impact, but - unbelievably – Alcides was found alive in the tangled mess of metal. He was so fragile, doctors had to cut him open and operate right there in the ER because they couldn't risk shifting him to theatre. But the fact is, he fell from a New York skyscraper and did not die. As one doctor said, "If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one."

The foetus parasite

Despite having a massively enlarged belly all his life, India's Sanju Bhagat didn't really think anything of it until he was eventually admitted to hospital with shortness of breath. Doctors initially thought a tumour was responsible – until they opened him up and realised he contained a foetus, complete with hands and feet. Sanju was a rare example of what happens when one foetus envelops another during pregnancy, with the lost twin living on as a sort of parasite. After having it removed, a new, rather more svelte Sanju made a complete recovery.

Surviving the non-survivable

When Jory Aebly was shot in the head, execution-style, during a mugging, doctors described the injury as "non-survivable". It was after all a point-blank bullet right through both sides of the brain. Cut to just over a month later, and Aebly was walking out of the hospital, all patched up. Not quite as good as new – his ability to recognise faces has been affected by the trauma – but still frankly superhuman as far as we're concerned.

His heart was in the wrong place

When Christopher Wall was born with his heart beating outside his body, it was a miracle he survived beyond the first few minutes. The second, even bigger miracle was that doctors were able to fix him, even though he didn't have any space in his chest for his own heart. Numerous operations followed, and surgeons eventually created a sort of heart compartment for Christopher using parts of his hip bone, allowing him to grow up into an active, adventurous adult.

The undrowning

A day out swimming in Long Beach, Washington became a nightmare for a boy named Dale Ostrander when he was dragged away by a riptide. He was trapped underwater for 20 minutes, and when rescuers eventually got to him he wasn't breathing and had no pulse. He had, in other words, drowned. Except that four days later he woke up and started talking again. It's thought the effects of hypothermia actually caused his brain to protect itself from oxygen starvation, or something equally far-fetched and brilliant.

A miracle and a half

Road accidents aren't exactly pleasant at the best of times. But Chinese chap Peng Shuilin was literally chopped in half at the waist, which led to two years of agonisingly complex operations to reconfigure his insides. He was eventually able to move around inside a giant egg-cup on two robot legs. But the real miracle was his optimism and drive. And the fact he was able to open a supermarket called Half Man Half Price.

A tooth for an eye

Rotherham resident Martin Jones lost one eye and was left blinded in another in an industrial accident (having molten aluminium sprayed in your face will do that). Years later, some very clever surgeons removed one of his teeth, implanted a tiny lens inside it, and then placed the tooth inside Martin's remaining eye. They had to do it because his eye might have rejected a plastic implant, and the gory gamble paid off. The eye has it!

The baby who was born twice

Keri and Chad McCartney feared the worst when, during a routine scan six months into her pregnancy, doctors realised a huge tumour was nestled inside her womb, right alongside her baby. Surgery was the only option, and that meant opening her womb, carefully taking the six-month foetus most of the way out, and excising the tumour before tucking the foetus back in. It worked, and a few months later Keri gave birth as normal, as if nothing had ever happened.

The drunken dog

It's not just humans who can defy all medical expectations. We have to also mention a terrier named Charlie who almost died after accidentally drinking anti-freeze. More remarkable than his recovery was his medication: vodka, via IV drip. Apparently, vodka was able to flush the anti-freeze out of Charlie's system, while also getting him plastered. "I'd go to pat him and he'd push me away like a normal drunk person," his owner reported. That's what we call a doggone miracle.