Your typical television medical drama goes like this: a patient enters the hospital with odd symptoms. Then they get worse, their ailment seems incurable, and then the doctor — and hero — saves the day with a once-in-a-lifetime diagnosis. But is this how it truly works in the real medical world?
These real people faced strange and devastating medical situations that no doctors knew how to treat. Thanks to miracles that wouldn’t be out of place in a medical drama, however, they were able to overcome mysteries that had top doctors scratching their heads and prove anything is possible…
Mason Motz suffered development issues that left him unable to speak; he could make sounds, but no one understood him despite endless attempts at speech therapy. Doctors were stumped.
When he turned 6, Mason had a dentist appointment where the doc noticed the boy’s tongue was literally tied! After snipping off a tiny piece, Mason gained full range of his tongue, and could finally tell his parents he loved them.
Jessica Allen already had two beautiful children with her husband Wardell when she decided to become a surrogate for a Chinese couple. The implantation was successful, and she turned out to be pregnant with twins. However…
When the babies were born, one looked suspiciously like Wardell! It turned out, one of the babies was theirs! After a lengthy legal battle, the couple finally earned custody of the child that was biologically their own.
For Darla Rogers, what started as a nice Mother’s Day with her kids ended in a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer. After trying several cancer treatments to no avail, her doctors had one last idea.
Doctors suggested a unique dose of Y-90 drug, which creates a less damaging and more precise form of radiation. It was a newer, untested treatment but it worked! Darla enjoyed many more years with her family!
Carrie and Craig Kosinski wanted a big family but were told they couldn’t conceive. So they were naturally elated when their friend asked if they would adopt her newborn twin babies.
The adoption worked out so well that she asked them to adopt her other set of twins as well. But then, after the Kosinskis happily took in 4 kids, they found out by some miracle that Carrie was pregnant — with twins!
After spending several years addicted to painkillers, Dustin Dextraze grew sick of depending on drugs. So he began researching alternative methods to get sober.
He found out that Ibogaine, a substance from Africa, kills withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Despite health risks, Dustin used the alkaloid to aid his recovery — and felt “110 percent better!” This led researchers to test the plant for future use.
Mother-of-four Amanda Kofoed was studying to become an elementary school teacher when she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Luckily, her story was picked up by a group called PRAYnksters — a group that pulls stunts to spread kindness.
So while Amanda and her husband were at a coffee shop, total strangers — under the guidance of PRAYNksters — kept piling $100 bills on their table until they received $13,000 for treatment. Without the financial stress, Amanda’s health began looking up!
Thirty-year-old Kayla Rahn began experiencing intense stomach pains while gaining an alarming amount of weight. Family, friends, and even doctors linked the first to the latter and told Kayla the solution was to lose weight.
No matter how hard she tried, though, she just couldn’t! Because, as it turned out, she had a 50-pound ovarian cyst the size of a corgi! Once it was removed, Kayla recovered quickly and lost 75 lbs within a month, happy to be back in her boyfriend’s arms!
Brandon Lash was still in his twenties when doctors diagnosed incurable kidney disease, which would hinder most of his bodily functions. Thinking he was doomed to be on dialysis forever, he began to give up hope.
But then his brother Derek revealed life-changing news: he was a match — a viable donor! Younger bro donated his kidney on Brandon’s birthday, they both recovered, and brotherly love never reached such heights.
Pregnant with her second child, Nichelle Obar went to get an ultrasound; unfortunately, the scan revealed her daughter had a heart twice the normal size and fluid was building up in her organs due to a condition called Thalassemia.
This condition could not only kill the baby but Nichelle as well. One doctor did not believe she should abort and suggested a radical new procedure. Miraculously, the baby was born healthy in the world’s first ever utero stem cell transplant trial.
At a 2006 pool party, Derek Amato leaped forward to catch a football and hit his head on the shallow end of the swimming pool. When his friends pulled him out, he was in and out of consciousness, hallucinating, and speaking nonsense.
He’d suffered brain damage. Strangely, however, a few weeks later he spotted an electric keyboard and found he could expertly play the piano despite never practicing or learning the skill before! This phenomenon is still unexplained.
Maria Boyle was born with a genetic disease called Alport Syndrome, which slowly deteriorated her kidney function. She received a transplant before, but 12 years later, she needed another one.
To find a donor, she stuck a “Share Your Spare” with her cellphone on her car. Once her window sticker went viral, a generous stranger volunteered her kidney to the ailing woman. Maria made a full recovery!
Thanks to fertility treatments, Kassy and Lee Hovenga had been parents for 7 months…but then, while at Lee’s softball tournament, a ball went rogue and hit McKenna’s head!
She had a skull fracture and two brain bleeds. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital where doctors induced a deep coma. Somehow, the baby survived.
Edie Stadling was only 3 years old when she was diagnosed with terminal brain stem cancer. Her life expectancy was just 18 more months. When her parents discovered a new trial treatment in Mexico, however, they finally regained hope.
Unfortunately, they needed £300,000 per treatment. Desperate, the family pleaded for donations, which trickled in slowly. But then an anonymous stranger sent them £250,000! The trial treatment took, and Edie is still on this earth today.
Elizabeth Brown woke up on her 14th birthday and realized she couldn’t move — a tumor impacted her spine. She was quickly admitted to the hospital, where she met cancer nurse Debbie.
With her overwhelming positivity, nurse Debbie lifted Liz’s spirits during treatment. Liz went on to recover after treatment, years later, reunited with her beloved nurse first over social media, then in person. The two inspired one another.
Maya was born with only stumps for legs. Growing up in a war zone, the 8-year-old Syrian didn’t expect proper medical care, so she made her own legs out of tuna cans.
When people heard her story, they donated money for her to travel to Turkey to receive proper prosthetics. There, a generous doctor performed surgery for free, so now Maya can truly walk!
In 2003, Judy Perkins was diagnosed with “pre-cancer,” so to avoid having the disease develop, she had a mastectomy. She thought she was safe, but 10 years later, cancerous lump form on her side. She had metastatic breast cancer.
No treatment saved her, until a doctor sampled her white blood cells, multiplied them, and inserted them back into her. This radical treatment was effective for Judy, and her incurable cancer entered remission, allowing her to pick up her active lifestyle again.
Samantha Gonzales had just given birth to her son Manolo when she learned that his liver was failing. He wouldn’t eat and without a new organ, he wouldn’t be long for the world.
A total stranger on the other side of the country, 24-year-old Rebecca LaSalle, offered up a piece of her liver for the boy. The donation saved Manolo’s life, and the altruistic donor jumped at the chance to meet up with him down the road!
When Lauren Harper gave birth to her first son Tyler, she soon discovered he had a narrowed opening between his stomach and his intestines.
The surgery took care of the problem, but the nurses cared for the baby the entire time and supported Lauren emotionally. This made such an impact on the new mother that she decided to become a nurse herself and help others like her son!
Eighty-one-year-old James Harrison of Australia may seem like an ordinary guy at first glance. But get to know him — listen to his story — and you’ll soon learn he has a history that could’ve been ripped from the pages of your favorite comic book.
James, you see, has been given the nickname “The Golden Arm.” While this may sound like a nonsensical moniker, the story behind his nickname is absolutely inspirational.
The story starts in the early 1950s when James was only 14 years old. He fell ill and needed emergency lung surgery. After hours-long operations, 2.5 gallons of blood transfusions, and endless medications, James couldn’t believe it: he survived.
Although he was scared of needles, James knew from that moment on he wanted to be an organ and blood donor. When he became of legal age, he immediately began working on his goal and searched for the nearest location to donate blood.
He found a local Red Cross Center in Sydney, where he was asked if he wanted to donate whole blood, plasma, or just platelets. He was told he could not donate whole blood as often as he wanted, but he could at least donate plasma every few weeks.
After about a month, he was called in by the center. He was nervous, but he went right in. The doctor who met with him began by asking: “Sir, have you heard of Rhesus disease?”
James didn’t have Rhesus disease. In fact, it’s found only in pregnant mothers and fetuses, and it causes the baby to suffer from anemia, jaundice, brain damage, or even death.
Rhesus disease occurs when a mother’s blood and the baby’s blood are incompatible due to the Rh level in the father’s blood (the factor that makes your blood type + or -). If an Rh- mother’s blood crosses with her Rh+ baby’s blood, it can attack the child’s red blood cells.
“In Australia, up until the 1960s, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year,” explained Jemma Falkenmire, a spokesperson of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. “Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage.” So what did this have to do with James?
Luckily, certain people have the antibodies for this disease swimming in their bloodstream — and James is one of them! As soon as he found out, he made it his life’s mission to donate plasma almost every week, though always looking away because of a strong fear for the syringe.
“The Red Cross and Australia can never thank a man like James enough,” said Ms. Falkenmire in an interview. “It’s unlikely we will ever have another blood donor willing to make this commitment.”
Wall Street Journal
But there was someone even closer to home who saw James for the hero he is. His own daughter, Tracey Mellowship, fell within the 17% of Australians suffering from Rhesus disease during her pregnancy.
She was given a transfusion of her own father’s blood and brought to the world a beautiful baby girl. James couldn’t be happier that he could save his own granddaughter (front) with his “golden arms.”
In 2018, James’ story was in the news again, although this time it was for a sad reason. He had reached the age of 81, the limit for donating blood in Australia. On May 11, he made his very last donation: number 1,173. He wished he could keep donating, but couldn’t believe his ears when he was told how many lives he’d saved.
Subel Bhandari / Newscom
James’ blood was used to cure Rhesus disease so often that he had saved over 2.4 million unborn babies, winning him the Medal Of The Order Of Australia, as well as the Guinness World Record for most blood donated in a lifetime.
“Every ampoule of Anti-D ever made in Australia has James in it. I cry just thinking about it,” Robyn Barlow, the program coordinator who recruited Mr. Harrison and who celebrated his last donation with him, said.
So what now? Does the end of James’ era means the Rhesus babies are doomed? Don’t worry: although the antibody gene is rare, he wasn’t the only one with the miracle cure in his veins. There are currently 160-200 known Australians who are donating the special plasma to save future babies.
Donating blood is an easy thing to do. Many schools and businesses organize blood drives where you can donate blood without the commute. There are even buses that travel through cities to collect from anyone who is ready to donate.
“Saving two million is hard to get your head around, but if they claim that’s what it is, I’m glad to have done it,” James said with a smile. “I guess you can blame me for the increase in population.”