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Army National Guardsman Makes Miracle Recovery After Being Internally Decapitated

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Army specialist Rashaad Gregory, 19, of Phoenix is making an amazing recovery this holiday season following a serious car accident that left him internally decapitated.
Rashaad Gregory

Gregory was rushed to St. Joseph's Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix where neurosurgeons refused his skull with his spine using an innovative surgery that was perfected at Barrow. The injury, occipitocervical dislocation, is a critical injury that is almost universally fatal.

After the neurosurgery and three additional surgeries to repair his internal organs, Gregory is walking, talking, and plans to attend college to become an elementary school teacher - an amazing feat for the type of injury he suffered.

Gregory's surgery - called an occipitocervical fusion surgery - involved using a titanium rod and screws along with a piece of his own rib to reattach the skull with the spine. Barrow neurosurgeons have more experience treating this deadly injury than anywhere in the world. Gregory spent four months in the hospital and is currently undergoing outpatient rehabilitation.

"When someone suffers this type of injury, the head and spine are so very unstable that even gentle movement of a patient can lead to death,"Kumar Kakarla, MD, Gregory's neurosurgeon at Barrow. "At Barrow, we have one of the world’s largest group of survivors with this injury and Gregory's outcome has been exceptional."

Not only is his recovery incredible, but his personality and positivity are unmeasured. For the Army specialist who at a young age dreamed of joining the military, Gregory is defying odds and hopes to inspire others.

"A positive attitude changes everything," says Gregory. "I can’t turn back the clock and wish this injury didn’t happen to me. Instead, I choose to move forward and make everyday a gift."

Publish date: 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

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