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The Nation

'Miraculous' recovery after man's 47-story fall

January 04, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Doctors say they've never seen anything like it: A window washer who fell 47 stories from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper is now awake, talking to his family and expected to walk again.

Alcides Moreno, 37, plummeted almost 500 feet in a Dec. 7 scaffolding collapse that killed his brother.

Somehow Moreno lived, and doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center announced Thursday that his recovery has been astonishing.

He has movement in all his limbs. He is breathing on his own. And on Christmas Day, he spoke for the first time since the accident.

His wife, Rosario Moreno, cried as she thanked the doctors and nurses who kept him alive.

"Thank God for the miracle that we had," she said. "He keeps telling me that it just wasn't his time."

Dr. Herbert Pardes, the hospital's president, described Moreno's condition when he arrived for treatment as "a complete disaster."

Both legs and his right arm and wrist were broken in several places. He had severe injuries to his chest, abdomen and spinal column. His brain was bleeding. Everything was bleeding, it seemed.

In those first critical hours, doctors pumped 24 units of donated blood into his body -- about twice his entire blood volume.

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.

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