Credit where credit is due

A football player, Kevin Everett, suffered serious spinal cord trauma in a game the other day. That’s tragic, but the impressive part of the story is that he may recover to some degree thanks to advances in treatment, and most surprising, this comment from a consulting neurosurgeon:

“I don’t know if I would call it a miracle. I would call it a spectacular example of what people can do,” Green said. “To me, it’s like putting the first man on the moon or splitting the atom. We’ve shown that if the right treatment is given to people who have a catastrophic injury that they could walk away from it.”

No miracles, just hard work and fast action and science. Sounds like the right answer to me.


  1. Brian says

    I don’t know – I think it’s pretty remarkable. This idea that a hypothermic state can be used as a type of ‘stasis’ while injuries are repaired is fairly new. And it sounds like, from the extent his accident, it’s very remarkable that he even has a possibility of walking again.

  2. tacitus says

    In other parts of the world, where the religious belief is less prevalent, the term miraculous has taken on the definition as something that is extremely unlikely and fortuitous. (One would never call being killed by a falling meteorite a miracle, unless it had happened to someone like Adolf Hitler, I guess.)

    Kudos to the doctors who treated him, and to all the researchers who have made this treatment possible. To paraphrase Kathy Griffin, Jesus had nothing to do with it.

  3. Moses says

    don’t know – I think it’s pretty remarkable. This idea that a hypothermic state can be used as a type of ‘stasis’ while injuries are repaired is fairly new. And it sounds like, from the extent his accident, it’s very remarkable that he even has a possibility of walking again.

    Posted by: Brian | September 12, 2007 1:37 PM

    Yeah, it’s pretty cool… :) In open heart surgery they’ve been using induced hypothermia for decades. At this point in time, it’s become common enough that they have been using it, for certain cases, in emergency rooms and have since 1990. All because of empirical observation and well-crafted studies.

    And it has nothing to do with praying to Jesus or any other sky-fairy.

  4. True Bob says

    How could a two word post possibly be unclear? I meant that it should be unremarkable that the neurosurgeon attributes the success to hard work and motivated people. As for the actual techniques, pretty, um, cool.

  5. Sean says

    We all wish. They have stretched biblical verses into ‘proving’ the Bible predicted everything from the expansion of the universe to the Bill of Rights.


    Psalm 147:17
    He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?

    Proverbs 25:13
    As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

    How could these pretechnological people predict modern medical advances such as induced hypothermia with such accuracy? They couldn’t have! Not without the divine hand of God guiding their very words! I feel sorry for all of you who will not admit the Truth. I will pray for your souls.


  6. says

    This is a bit premature, it may still be a miracle.

    My Hype-meter is running red hot on this case.

    I mean, where is the science?

    I’m not convinced the alleged hypothermia intervention did the trick. What reason is there to think this was a less than catastrophic injury?

    A quick search didn’t come up with much on hypothermia intervention trials and the Miami project

  7. Bryson Brown says


    As some here have already commented, hypothermia has been used for quite a long time now to create a wider time window for cardiac procedures by slowing metabolism and reducing oxygen-deprivation stress. (My father was involved in an engineering project for a long-wave microwave warming system that could have been used to warm the core directly (warming from the outside is risky because the main organs aren’t ready to support the demands of the peripheral parts as they warm). The system could also be used to help keep piglets warm and reduce losses due to hypothermia– the pigs learned to turn it on themselves when they were cold! Of course in surgery you can just warm the blood as it moves through the heart-lung apparatus…) Anyway, much of the damage that the spinal cord suffers following a traumatic compression is due to normal sequelae of the injury- inflamation, etc., which can be reduced and/or delayed by inducing hypothermia.

  8. Venger says

    Until someone grows an arm or a leg back through the power of prayer I will continue to consider any one who claims medical miracles are true an idiot. That should be pretty simple for an omnipotent god (who never the less can’t handle iron chariots or money) right? Well except that ultimate of cop outs…”I refuse to prove I exist, because proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing,” ha it should be more like “there can be no proof, only in faith do I exist”.

  9. says

    I know a ton about the use of hypothermia in cardiac theater, including first hand experience assisting in open heart procedures.

    A quick medline search shows that interest in hypothermia in spinal injury peaked in the 80’s, and not much has been done since, and it never really made its way into clinical practice.

    I agree it makes sense, but a lot of things that make sense don’t survive scientific inspection, and it sort of seems like hypothermia in SCI is one of those things that got a test and never really panned out.

  10. says

    Blader – even if the credited treatment was not truly effective, it doesn’t mean that “miracle” is still in the running as an alternate explanation. Or did I misinterpret your statement?


  11. Michele says

    This is great to see. I worked in a busy trauma center for several years and every patient we saved was a “miracle from God” and everyone we lost was our fault. It gets very frustrating to hear after awhile.

  12. Shawn Smith says

    Too bad Morning Edition on NPR didn’t mention this statement. I only heard them talk about how one of the doctors had said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “we might be witnessing a minor miracle here.” There’s a long way to go, people.

  13. 7zcata says

    Funny, the person who first pronounced it a ‘minor miracle’ is the very doctor who administered immediate care.

    Whether or not it was the hypothermia, there is no denying the fact that his treatment was started immediately by professionals who are leaders in the field of spinal cord injuries.

    This should motivate researchers (or research donors) in the area of spinal cord injury, and policy makers who are responsible for ensuring rapid response to injuries.

  14. says

    I’m reminded of that quote, attributed to both Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” I guess the more we do medical research, the more “miracles” we’ll get.

  15. Dahan says

    It’s to bad that the surgeon’s quote is so hard to find out there on the web, but the player’s mother’s quote on how she says it was definately a miracle is one of the top stories on MSNBC, etc. Very sad.

  16. Great White Wonder says

    To paraphrase Kathy Griffin, Jesus had nothing to do with it.

    You can’t prove that.

    /fundy wanker off

  17. says

    It always makes me irritated when someone attributes the survival of someone else to god or miracles or whatever, without thinking twice about the hard work of the hospital. I have relations who have done this. They say that it’s the reason they are so religious.

    I make art sometimes. People tend to tell me ‘you’re so lucky with your god given gift’, to which I usually respond, “no one gave me a gift, I learned how to draw.”
    Sure, give all the credit to imaginary man in the sky. I didn’t do a damn thing.

  18. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Strange “miracle” it would be that depends on Everett getting a catastrophic injury in the first place. to use the jargon common to many team sports: nice set-up.

    Is that how it works? Miracle #1 is provided so that Miracle #2 will demonstrate the loving nature of the almighty to the godless heathens, so that He may be praised?

    Its pure unadulterated insanity, I say.

  19. says

    Scott-I was being facetious in calling it a ‘miracle’. Trust me, I wince every time I hear a clinical colleague credit a better than expected outcome on a miracle. It is a way overused term in the clinics, and often by people who should know a lot better.

    I managed to catch a brief bit on last nights NPR of an interview of the Miami Project chief of neurosurgery.

    He was quite careful to basically describe the hypothermia treatment as very, very new (sounds like first cases are only in the past few months) and based largely on a hunch, and he even specifically said that they were not working on ‘evidence-based medicine’ (a phrase that to me serves as code proving he’s tapped into the NIH pipeline. They have no evidence at this early point to convince themselves or anyone else that this treatment modality is effective.

    So, I suppose one could conclude that studies are underway, and the role of a miracle has not been formally discounted as of yet. ;>

  20. Winnebago says

    ABC’s Nightline covered the story last night. They made it a point to provide the doctors’ dismissal of a ‘miracle’ and his perspective on the value of science in this case.