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Young woman amazingly survives horrific internal beheading

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Rachel Bailey of Phoenix, Arizona miraculously survived after being internally decapitated in a car wreck. Bailey sustained the rare, usually deadly injury when her spine was torn from her skull in the smash in Phoenix. The accident happened on Cave Creek Road in September of 2011. Thanks to quick-acting firefighters who arrived at the scene, Bailey not only got to cheat death, but was saved from paralysis.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After surviving her injuries, the determined young woman has now learned to walk and talk again. The accident did wipe some of her memory, and she does not remember a five-week period around the time of the crash.

Describing her decapitation as "horribly impossible," Bailey acknowledged that most of the people who suffer internal decapitation usually die. Spending a month in John C. Lincoln Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, Bailey thought to herself "I'm not going to let this beat me or define me."

She met the men who rescued her in an emotional reunion this week. The 23-year-old told the group of men at Fire Station 7 that she could never thank them enough and she called them heroes.

Fire Captain Wayde Kline described the meeting as emotional. Cooking dinner for Bailey's family and the firefighters, the meeting gave his crew the chance to see a happier side of patients who are normally in distress.

When someone is internally decapitated, their spine is detached from their skull, with the head held on by just tissue and muscles. The patient normally dies because their spinal cord has been severed. In the rare case of survival, the victim is usually paralyzed because they endure such severe nerve damage.

Doctors have used metal plates, cages and bone grafts in surgery to reattach the head to the spine. As remarkable as her story is, however, Bailey is not the only person to have survived being internally beheaded.

Twenty-two-year-old cyclist Carpenter Aaron Denham was internally decapitated after being knocked off his bike. He defied all odds by not only surviving, but walking again after a quick-thinking retired nurse ran to his help.

Denham suffered internal decapitation, as well as serious head injuries, broken ribs, wrist, pelvis and nose as well as a severed artery in his neck, a lacerated spleen, bruised spinal cord and punctured lung.

Former nurse Maria Brasseur, who had heard the crash in Hampshire, dashed to the scene and help. The mother-of-four forced him to the ground and pinned him down with her own body to stop him moving.

Thanks to her life-saving action on March 3, 2011, he not only lived but escaped permanent spinal damage and is able to walk today after a long journey of specialist medical treatment.

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