What's worse? Getting cut in half, being shot 20 times, being decapitated, or spending an hour trapped underwater? These incredible stories of survival have been dubbed miracles by medical professionals...


1. The man who survived being shot 20 times

Joseph Guzman (PA Photos)

Joseph Guzman (PA Photos)

As long as you’re not shot in the vital organs or blood vessels, it’s perfectly possible to survive a gunshot wound. In fact, the survival rate is thought to be between 80-95%. But, obviously, this depends mostly on how lucky you are in terms of where the bullet ends up – or how bad an aim your attacker is.

In 1995, American Kenny Vaughan came face-to-face with one of his neighbours who was, apparently, not best pleased with him. Using a .22 calibre rifle, the man shot at Kenny from a distance of just 5ft.

Roughly 20 bullets penetrated Kenny’s body, including one that went through his groin exiting through his rectum, leaving him in a pool of blood and faeces.

Speaking about his incredible survival, Vaughan said, ‘I wouldn’t close my eyes. I kept telling myself, “If you close your eyes, you’ll go into shock, and you’re dead.”’

And what about surviving 19 gun shots? That’s what happened to New Yorker Joseph Guzman when officers fired 50 rounds at him and his friends… Doctors said Joseph appeared, unsurprisingly, ‘confused’ and ‘in severe pain’. Today, Joseph has recovered well, but walks with a cane.

2. The man who had an unexploded bomb lodged in his stomach



In the whole unexploded-bomb-wedged-in-your-intestines area of military injuries, Channing Moss was actually lucky, since his brave comrades decided to help him, risking their own lives, rather than abandon him to his fate.

In Afghanistan, 2006, American soldier Private Channing Moss and his patrol came under attack – during which an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) became lodged in his abdomen. Airlifted to hospital, surgeons and nurses dressed in body armour removed the RPG, along with part of Channing’s large intestine.

After his recovery, Channing Moss was given the Purple Heart – an American military decoration awarded to those wounded or killed while serving.

3. The man who was cut in half by a train



This probably stung a bit! American rail worker Truman Duncan fell off a moving train, got caught underneath its carriage – and was dragged an eye-watering 75ft as the vehicle’s steel wheels gradually sawed him in two.

With incredible presence of mind, the astonishingly still-conscious Truman rang 911 and told the operator he thought he’d been cut in half, and asked them to send help before he went into shock.

Although, while waiting an agonising 45 minutes to be rescued, Truman still managed to make a phone call to his family.

Surgeon Dr David Smith believes Truman’s intense desire to live combined with the colossal weight of the train pressing down on his body – which may have stemmed the blood loss (which was still very severe) – helped to save his life.

Truman went on to spend three weeks in a coma, and underwent more than 20 operations.

Of his terrifying ordeal, Truman said, ‘I wanted to see my babies grow up, just like everybody else. I just wanted to live so I could see my kids grow up.’

4. The toddler who was stuck in a frozen lake for an hour



Described as a ‘miracle’ by the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2½-year-old Michelle Funk spent more than an hour submerged in icy water.

Cold and blue when she was finally found by rescuers, with no heartbeat, not breathing, and with dilated pupils, it appeared Michelle was dead. But, at hospital, using a special machine to warm her blood, doctors eventually detected a faint heartbeat. Miraculously, she made a full recovery with no brain damage.

Doctors speculate Michelle’s body was frozen so quickly it prevented permanent damage to her brain.

5. The woman who was decapitated in a car accident

Well, internally decapitated – which is one notch better than having your head lopped off. Especially if you survive!

Internal decapitation is when the spinal column separates from the skull, meaning the head is only held in place by skin and muscle, so all it can do is flop about back to front, side to side…

Poor Shannon Malloy was in a car crash when she suffered this terrifying injury, which the vast majority of people wouldn’t survive. But, thankfully, apart from the point where it was detached from her head, Shannon’s spinal cord was still in good shape.

Treating Shannon, doctors needed to insert screws into her head and neck to attach a halo that would minimise movement. Of the procedure, Shannon recalls, ‘My skull slipped off my neck about five times. Every time they tried to screw this to my head, it would slip.’