It’s like the surprise twist in every drama: the girl–in this case 22-year-old Sam Hemming from Herefordshire, England–who works hard and triumphs suddenly and irrevocably has her life pulled up from underneath her.
Hemming studied law at Bangor University and graduated at the top of her class. She looked forward to the future before her as a lawyer, but on July 20, 2016, when her boyfriend, Tom Curtis, was driving them down the M6, the car flipped over, launching Hemming through the windshield.
She was put in a coma for 19 days.
Curtis was left with mild injuries while Hemming’s head smashed into the metal central reservation, taking off her left ear and knocking her out. Suffering from severe head injuries, she was airlifted to the hospital where doctors discovered that she had broken four bones in her neck and had three fractures in her arm. They operated on her for six grueling hours and decided to put her in a medically-induced coma with a life support machine.
“She suffered the worst injuries anyone could have in a car crash,” Hemming’s mother, Carol, told the Sun. “It was horrible seeing one of your kids lying in a bed with so many injuries because everything above her chest was injured. I never cried so much in my life.”
When a patient is on life support, the doctors usually give her three tries to prove that she isn’t brain dead by turning off the life support machine and seeing if she can breathe by herself. But when the life support machine was first turned off for Hemmings, her mother screamed.
“She wasn’t breathing on her own,” Carol said.
After the first three tries were unsuccessful, the doctors officially declared Hemming’s brain dead. Carol, devastated, decided to listen to the advice of the doctors and take her daughter off the machine.
“She was in the coma and after 19 days the doctor told us it was time to say goodbye. We gathered in her room and said our farewells,” she told the Sun.
But moments before they turned off the life support, a miracle happened.
As Hemming’s family gathered around her hospital bed, readying themselves for the doctor to pull the plug on her life, a specialist in the room stopped and saw something extraordinary: her big toe wiggled.
“It was amazing,” said Carol. “She had literally come back from the dead.”
The doctors were in absolute shock. Surgeons, paramedics, and police looked at her and their mouths fell open. Hemming underwent a tracheotomy and a few days later, she could breathe on her own.
“The paramedic who was at the scene and stayed with her right from the beginning said to me ‘She’s not supposed to be alive,'” Carol told the Sun.
The shock didn’t end there though. Doctors were glad that she could live, but they never hoped she could walk or talk again. However, back at her parents’ home, her mom, who had given up her job to care for Hemming full-time, is witnessing just that. With physical therapy and treatment for PTSD, Hemming is learning to mend her mind and her body.
Hemming wants to practice law when she’s fully healed. To her, the future wasn’t ripped away; rather, it was simply put on pause.
“She’s already beaten huge odds to be here today so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t amaze us all again,” said Carol.
“Because of the steps she has taken, she is a walking miracle.”