Law graduate Sam Hemming was left in a coma after suffering severe brain injuries in an horrific motorway crash.
A student has been dubbed a ‘walking miracle ’ after she wiggled her toe moments before doctors switched off her life-support machine.
Law graduate Sam Hemming was left in a coma after suffering severe brain injuries in an horrific motorway crash .
Medics told her family there was nothing they could do to save the 22-year-old and said she had no hope of recovery.
Sam’s parents gathered at her hospital bedside to say farewell after agreeing that her life-support machine could be switched off.
But moments before the apparatus was disconnected, she wiggled her big toe when a medic accidentally brushed it with an ice-cold wipe.
Stunned surgeons carried out a tracheotomy and Sam was able to breathe on her own – and eight weeks later was back home.
Mum Carol, who took a heartbreaking photograph of her daughter as she lay the coma, said: “It was amazing.
“She had literally came back from the dead. If she hadn’t wiggled her toe she wouldn’t be here today.”
Sam, who hopes to become a solicitor, said: “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 to all the medical staff who have helped me.”
Sam’s boyfriend Tom Curtis, 21, was driving her home to Credenhill, Hereford, when they crashed on the M6 in July.
The car flipped over and careered into the metal central reservation barrier, leaving her seriously injured.
Sam was airlifted to University Hospital Coventry , where surgeons battled to save her life.
She underwent three operations, as well as having metal plates inserted into her arm which suffered three fractures.
The talented athlete was put into a chemically-induced coma but showed no improvement after 19 days.
Doctors said she was brain dead and advised Carol, 44, and her dad Jason, 43, to switch off her life-support machine.
Carol said: “The doctors told us it was time to say goodbye. We gathered in her room and said our farewells.”
Medics said they would switch the machine off three times to give Sam a final chance to breathe and check her responses.
After showing no signs of brain activity, they carried out a final ‘hot and cold’ test – which again showed no response.
They then decided to switch it off for a fourth and final time and allow the Bangor University graduate to die.
It was then that a medic accidentally brushed the wipe on her right foot, making her big toe wiggle – a sign of brain activity.
Carol said: “The doctors did the hot and cold tests on Sammy about four times a day but they were always negative.
“They’d done the tests the day they were going to turn her life support off for the last time and the results showed there was no brain activity.
“Then a member of staff brushed her toe with the ice-cold wipe and it wiggled.
“She was responding to heat so there was still some brain function. The computer showed some brain activity.
“It’s amazing because the only time the tests showed a positive result was when the ice-cold wipe brushed on her toe by accident.
“No one knows why all the other tests were negative but brain injuries are complex and unpredictable.
“They gave Sammy a tracheotomy and five days later when they turned her life support off she breathed on her own.
“Doctors are totally in shock. You see the surgeons, paramedics and police look at Sammy and you see their mouths fall open.”
Despite suffering head injuries which left one side of her brain ‘dead’,
the other part of her brain which is not normally used was undamaged.
Amazingly, the undamaged side of her brain developed in such a way Sam has been able to learn how to walk and talk again.
Carol said: “Sammy shouldn’t be alive. She suffered the worst injuries anyone could have in a car crash.
“Her head smashed through the window and hit the central reservation and took her left ear off and she was knocked her out.
“Why her condition is different to other people is the part of the brain which most people don’t use has developed into speech and movement.
“That is why all the neurosurgeons were getting so excited as it is very rarely seen.
“Because of the steps she has taken, she is a walking miracle. Doctors are totally in shock.
“One doctor told me that Sam does have brain damage and is going to need care.
“But they said she shouldn’t be talking and she shouldn’t be able to take the steps she has as that part of her brain is dead.
“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.’
“It’s slow progress but Sam is determined to get better and wants to practice law.
“She has already beaten huge odds to be here today so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t amaze us all again.”
Sam now undergoes daily physiotherapy while doctors work to help her brain develop more functions.
She said: “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.
“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 and that ambition hasn’t changed. I still want a career in law.”