NRL News

About to “pull the plug,” shocked doctors stop when woman suddenly wiggles her big toe

by | Oct 5, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

Miracle: Sam Hemming pictured while in critical care in July. She has now been dubbed a 'walking miracle' after she wiggled her toe moments before doctors turned off her life-support.

Miracle: Sam Hemming pictured while in critical care in July. She has now been dubbed a ‘walking miracle’ after she wiggled her toe moments before doctors turned off her life-support.

How many times have you read a story about an accident–typically a car accident–in which the victim is labeled “brain dead”?

And how many times, as was the case recently with 22-year-old Sam Hemming after being in a drug-induced coma for 19 days, doctors tell her family there is “no hope of recovery” and are about to switch off life-support?

That’s exactly what happened last July. Here’s what Sam’s mother, Carol, told Amie Gordon of the Daily Mail happened next:

‘We gathered in her room and said our farewells. They turned the life support machine off and I screamed.’

But incredibly, Sam ‘wiggled her big toe’ and medics kept her in a controlled coma.

Days later she was given a tracheotomy and when her life-support machine was turned off again, she was able to breathe on her own.

Remarkably, just eight weeks later she was deemed well enough to return home in Credenhill, Hereford [England], where she now lives with Carol and dad Jason, 43.

22-year-old Sam Hemming with her mother, Carol

22-year-old Sam Hemming with her mother, Carol

Carol told the Daily Mail that her daughter ,a law school graduate of North Wales’ Bangor University, “literally came back from the dead,” adding, “Sammy shouldn’t be alive. She suffered the worst injuries anyone could have in a car crash.”

On July 20, Sam was traveling with her boyfriend Tom Curtis when their car crashed. Tom escaped with minor injuries but “the impact of the collision caused her head to smash through the window and hit the central reservation, taking her left ear off and breaking four bones in her neck,” according to Gordon.

She was airlifted to University Hospital Coventry.

According to her mother

They turned the life support back on and over the next few days the doctors tried turning if off two more times.

They usually give a patient three attempts to see if they can breathe on their own before switching if for good and letting the patient die but before they switched it off for a final time one of her specialists said her big toe wiggled.

The doctors are “totally in shock,” according to Carol.

“You see the specialised surgeons, paramedics and police and they look at Sammy and you see their mouths fall open,” Carol told the Daily Mail. They describe Sam as a “walking miracle.”

According to reporter Gordon, Sam “now undergoes daily physiotherapy and is being treated for post traumatic stress disorder while doctors work to help her brain develop more functions.”

Sam told her, I can’t remember the crash at all but I know I was coming home at the time.”

I can remember graduating and that’s it really. When I look at the pictures of me in the coma it seems unreal and when I hear that my toe saved me it’s amazing.

I’m hugely grateful for all the medical staff who have helped me. I can walk in short bursts and I have a walking frame and wheelchair to help me when I’m feeling weaker.

My talking is fine and I just want to get better now. Before the accident I wanted to be a solicitor [lawyer] and that ambition hasn’t changed. I still want a career in the law.

Categories: Brain Death