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Medford Man Rehabbing From Near-Fatal Accident

Medford man rehabbing from near-fatal accident

T.J. Scanlon gets ready to hit the pool with physical therapist Katie Schramm at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. (Credit: John Wilcox)

A Medford man who fell 20 feet after he was startled by barking pit bulls, spent 90 minutes in cardiac arrest, and survived two nights in freezing temperatures has made a miraculous recovery a year later, with the help of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

“I don’t even remember the first three weeks in the hospital,” said T.J. Scanlon, 32. “Seeing pictures of where I was 11 months ago, it’s crazy to me.”

T.J. was entering his Columbia, Md., apartment in March 2016 when he was spooked by nearby barking, and fell onto the complex’s basement concrete landing. He was found by concerned co-workers after two nights outside and flown to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center. T.J. was working as an electrical engineer for defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

His heart stopped for an hour and a half on the way to the hospital, and he was suffering from kidney and respiratory failure. He had broken a vertebra in his neck, and his hands and toes were black from frostbite and lack of circulation. Muscle atrophy forced the amputation of T.J.’s left leg. The former track and field athlete has not regained movement of his other leg.

But since the accident, T.J. has lived up to the only label doctors could use to describe his survival: a medical miracle.

“I was in the chapel. I made deals with God,” said Deborah Scanlon, T.J.’s mom. “I said ‘please, please, save my son.’ ”

Deborah spent days by her son’s hospital bed crying, staring at his vital signs. She was looking for some comfort in the squiggly lines that proved her son was still fighting for his life.

After 29 operations, T.J. is continuing the fight. He spends several days a week at Spaulding and he has just started to swim, which he could not do pre-accident.

Tuesday was his first day using a Locomat: a treadmill with robot-assisted controls for the lower body.

It was the first time since his accident that T.J. once again felt the familiar freedom of walking.

Today, The Scanlon family will attend a University of Maryland Medical Center gala, where T.J. will be honored as one of the medical miracle heroes of the year in front of about 1,600 people. He will also get details about the incident that have so far remained a mystery. He will see the medical notes, hear the 9-1-1 recording, and talk to the team who saved him about just how close he was to death.

“I’m a little nervous to receive all the information we don’t have,” said his sister, Kimberly Scanlon, 36. “It’s almost bittersweet.”

T.J.’s survival was especially miraculous after enduring the devastating loss of his father in 2012. Since then, T.J. has been a rock for his family.

The engineer has continued working remotely, and plans to move back to Maryland after he is done with his rehabilitation.

But T.J. has no plans to give up on the possibility that he may walk someday. And he will never let the aftermath of the accident stop him from living his life.

“I do believe everything happens for a reason. This is just another obstacle,” he said. “From the beginning, I said I’m not going to let my injury define me. And I haven’t.”


Story Credit: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/04/medford_man_rehabbing_from_near_fatal_accident