Wiggling Toe Helped Save Comatose Woman’s Life Before Doctors Shut Off Her Life Support

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 4, 2016   |   6:57PM   |   Washington, DC

Sam Hemming’s family already had said their good-byes to her and doctors were about to turn off her life support when the 22-year-old accident victim gave them a sign that she was still alive.

Newser reports the UK woman wiggled her big toe just in time to save her life.

According to the report, Hemming and her boyfriend were driving home from college in July when they were involved in a vehicle accident. The young woman suffered severe head injuries, and doctors put her in a medically induced coma, according to the report.

Here’s more from the report:

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.

Hemming surprised her family and doctors again when she began talking and walking, things doctors predicted that she would never do again. According to the Hereford Times, Hemming’s brain is adapting to the injuries. She is using a part of the brain that most people frequently do not use to learn to talk and walk again, according to her doctors.

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“Why her condition is different to other people is that the part of the brain which most people don’t use – her’s has developed into speech and movement,” her mother, Carol, explained to the news outlet. “That is why all the neurosurgeons were getting so excited as it is very rarely seen.”

“Doctors are totally in shock,” she continued. “You see the specialized surgeons, paramedics and police and they look at Sammy and you see their mouths fall open.”

The young woman still has a long way to go to recover. Her parents said Sam has post traumatic stress disorder and memory loss, and she will need continuing therapy.

Sam herself spoke to her local newspaper recently and thanked the medical staff, paramedics and others who worked to save her life.

“I’m thankful to them all so much,” she said. “They are all amazing.”

Friends who set up a fundraiser to help her family with medical expenses said Sam is a talented, athletic, caring young woman. She recently graduated from Bangor University with a degree in law.

“Whenever any of Sam’s friends are ill, she was always the one to bring you a tub of ice cream, hold your hand for a blood test or bring you a coloring book to keep you busy when you have a sniffle,” her friends wrote.

Her parents said she is a “walking miracle.”