It’s an outcome so foregone that it’s become a cliché in popular media. You know the kind of stories I’m talking about.
The desperately ill individual’s family gathers around his hospital bed. They’ve done everything they can, and none of it has worked.
With tearful goodbyes, they pull the plug on the life-support systems keeping him alive. Usually there’s a lot of drama at this point in the movie, television show or book.
We all know how it ends in real life, though: The person in the bed dies. However, a case out of Omaha, Nebraska, shows that we may not want to be quick to give up hope even when people seem insurmountably ill.
According to the Associated Press, T. Scott Marr was discovered by his family in his bed on Dec. 12. Though breathing, he was otherwise unresponsive.
When his daughter, Preston Marr, arrived at his bedside, she found a chaplain waiting for her. It wasn’t a good sign.
Marr was on a ventilator and his brain had swollen badly. Doctor’s believed he’d suffered a devastating stroke.
“There was nothing we could fix or do surgically that night,” Dr. John Treves, the first neurosurgeon to treat Marr, told the Omaha World-Herald.
Dr. Rebecca Runge added, “We were worried in this case that this was not a reversible process and that it was going to proceed to brain death.”
According to Preston, her father had never wanted to be bound to a bed. That left the family with a very difficult decision.
They could leave him hooked up to the ventilator, unlikely to improve. Or they could unhook him and let him pass away naturally.
“He had always said, ‘I never want you guys to see me lying in a hospital bed, lying in a nursing home,’” Preston explained. “They told us he was on his way to brain death, so we said our goodbyes before extubating him, all the monitors were shut off and we waited by his side.”
But something odd happened: Marr didn’t die.
He kept breathing and breathing and breathing. His kids eventually canceled an appointment at a nearby funeral home and stood by his bedside.
When Preston entered the room again, she said, “Hi, Dad.” Her father, eyes still closed, moved his mouth into a smile.
Preston decided to try something. “I asked him to move his thumbs, and he slowly moved his thumbs, and I asked him to wiggle his toes, and he wiggled all his toes really slightly,” she said.
The physicians ran more scans and discovered something amazing. Marr hadn’t experienced a stroke, but instead had a terrible case of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome.
“It’s commonly caused by high blood pressure, but there are many things that can cause it,” Dr. Runge said. According to The AP, the extreme swelling in Marr’s brain is not a normal symptom associated with the syndrome, which led doctors to believe he’d suffered a stroke.
With treatment, Marr survived and is largely back to his old self. Marr’s miraculous survival has also earned him the new title his family has given him: “Miracle Man.”
“I’m not an extremely religious person,” he said. “But I do believe in God, I believe with all my heart. And now this is just proof for me that everything I’ve ever heard is true.”
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