Getting Ready to Pull the Plug and Then ... a Wiggling Toe

Doctors were about to switch off Sam Hemming's life support for the final time
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2016 7:55 AM CDT
Getting Ready to Pull the Plug and Then ... a Wiggling Toe
A toe wiggle gave Hemming a new chance at life.   (Getty Images)

A chance glance and a big toe saved a 22-year-old woman's life in the UK, the London Times reports. Sam Hemming, a law school graduate of North Wales' Bangor University, was being driven home to Hereford by her boyfriend, Tom Curtis, in July when they got into an accident, per the Mirror: The car flipped, and while Curtis wasn't badly hurt, Hemming was left with broken neck bones, a fractured arm, and severe head injuries, leading doctors to place her in a medically induced coma, the Sun notes. After 19 days, the doctors said hope was gone, and Hemming's family gathered to say their goodbyes. Doctors said they'd switch her life support off and on three times before turning it off for good, just to make sure there was no brain activity—and as they prepared to switch it off for the final time, a medic brushed against her big toe with an icy-cold wipe and her toe wiggled.

Doctors gave her a tracheotomy, and a few days later when they turned the life support off again, she could breathe on her own. The second part of Hemming's story: Doctors didn't think she'd ever walk or talk again, though now she's doing both as she recuperates at her parents' home. Even though Hemming suffers from PTSD and has memory loss, doctors are hopeful they can keep boosting her brain function, per the Hereford Times. "When I look at the pictures of me in the coma, it seems unreal," Hemming says. "And when I hear that my toe saved me, it's amazing." (A college student in a coma gave his mom a Christmas "miracle.")

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