Incredible. Truly beyond belief.
I’d like to start my Froodee blogs for 2008 with this amazing true story of a man who fell 47 stories from the roof of a skyscraper in New York City last Dec. 7 who, miraculously, survived the fall and – hold your breath – is now talking to his family and expected to walk again.
As narrated in an Associated Press story today, the man – a window washer identified as Alcides Moreno, 37 — plummeted almost 500 feet when the scaffolding he was standing on collapsed.
His brother who was standing with him on that fateful day was not as lucky. He died.
But somehow, Moreno managed to live – not very much unlike Claire Bennet, the girl with healing powers played by Hayden Panetierre in the hit TV series “Heroes.”
What a fall. What could be going on in his mind in those few seconds as he was hurtling down the concrete pavement of Manhattan?
He must have willed himself to survive. That’s the only possible explanation for this miracle.
Just imagine the injuries he sustained as described by his doctors: Dr. Herbert Pardes, the president of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, described Moreno’s condition when he arrived for treatment as “a complete disaster.”
The doctor said both of Moreno’s legs and his right arm and wrist were broken in several places. He had severe injuries to his chest, his abdomen and his spinal column. His brain was bleeding. Everything was bleeding, the doctor said.
In those first critical hours, doctors pumped 24 units of donated blood into his body — about twice his entire blood volume.
They also gave him plasma and platelets and a drug to stimulate clotting and stop the hemorrhaging. They inserted a catheter into his brain to reduce swelling and cut open his abdomen to relieve pressure on his organs.
Moreno was at the edge of consciousness when he was brought in. Doctors sedated him, performed a tracheotomy and put him on a ventilator.
His condition was so unstable, doctors worried that even a mild jostle might kill him, so they performed his first surgery without moving him to an operating room.
Nine orthopedic operations pieced together his broken body.
Yet, even when things were at their worst, the hospital’s staff marveled at his luck.
Incredibly, Moreno’s head injuries were relatively minor for a fall victim. Neurosurgeon John Boockvar said the window washer also managed to avoid a paralyzing spinal cord injury, even though he suffered a shattered vertebra.
“If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one,” said the hospital’s chief of surgery, Dr. Philip Barie.
New York-Presbyterian has treated people who have tumbled from great heights before, including a patient who survived a 19-story fall, but they pale in comparison to what happened to Moreno.
The death rate from even a three-story fall is about 50 percent, Barie said. People who fall more than 10 stories almost never survive.
“Forty-seven floors is virtually beyond belief,” Pardes said.
Science may never be able to explain what protected Moreno when the platform he and his brother were using atop an Upper East Side apartment tower broke free and fell to the ground.
Edgar Moreno, 30, of Linden N.J., died instantly. He was buried in Ecuador, where the brothers came from.
Moreno’s wife Rosario said that her husband remembers little of the fall.
The injured window washer spent about three weeks on a ventilator, unable to speak, and initially his only means of communication was by touch.
“He wanted to touch my face, touch my hair,” Rosario said.
She would take his hand and hold it to her skin. Then, one day, he reached out and touched one of the nurses.
Rosario said that when she heard about it, she jokingly lectured her husband to keep his hands to himself. He answered in English, “What did I do?”
“It stunned me,” she said, “because I didn’t know he could speak.”
There is still a rough road ahead for the tough New Jersey man, a father of three children, ages 14, 8 and 6.
He was scheduled to undergo another spinal surgery on Friday, and he will need another operation to reconstruct his abdominal wall.
Moreno will remain in the hospital for at least a few more weeks, doctors said. After that, he will need extensive physical rehabilitation. It may be another year before doctors know how much he will improve.
One thing for sure though: He will never wash windows of high-rise buildings again. Never.
This miracle man could become the poster guy of those who espouse positive thinking. He could serve to inspire the millions of people in this world who wallow in self-pity and, thus, in misery, and who invite all sorts of calamities in their lives by doing so.
“Hey, look at me,” Moreno could tell all of them misery-lovers. “I’ve defied gravity and death with just the power of my mind. The hurdles you face appear silly to what I conquered.”
Moreno may never be able to wash windows anymore. But he could wash the grime and dark spots from the minds of many people in this world.
(Photo caption: A window washer in one of the high-rise buildings in New York)