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General Health Channel
Reported January 11, 2012

Decapitated but not Dead!

NASHVILLE, TN (Ivanhoe Newswire) – This woman lost her head in a car accident and she’s still alive!

Judy Kerns is a medical miracle.  A car accident left the bone in Judy’s neck literally crumbled.

“My neck, I couldn’t get my neck back up,” Judy Kerns told Ivanhoe.

Judy was decapitated internally. Her head had fallen off her spine.

“It was just like somebody was sticking knives in me, and my whole body would just freeze up in pain,” Judy said.

She couldn’t lift her head to eat and dropped to 98 pounds. She also developed sores under her neck that became infected, but doctor after doctor told Judy they didn’t know how to fix her head.

“I was scared. I guess I was in so much pain. I just wanted it all over,” Judy said.
Then she met Vanderbilt surgeon Matthew McGirt who said he’d try a risky, but potentially lifesaving procedure. 

“We knew without surgery, she would likely die,” Matthew McGirt, M.D., a spine surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said.

For two weeks doctors worked to get Judy healthy again. That meant nutrition through a feeding tube and treating her infected sores. Then came the week-long surgery.

“This was the first time I had to rebuild someone’s entire cervical spine. The real trick was doing it without paralyzing her,” Dr. McGirt said.

Doctors created a titanium cage to replace the front of Judy’s spine. They also ran three long rods down the back of her neck to hold her head up. The entire surgery took 30 hours. After three days , Judy was walking! Now , she can’t move her head or neck, but she’s able to eat, walk outside  and most importantly play with her grandkids.

Judy has to be extremely careful not to hit the metal pieces in her neck. Just one bad fall could paralyze or even kill her. She can’t run, jump or lift over five pounds. MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on Decapitated but not Dead!

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Matthew McGirt

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com

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