On Nov. 1, Houston Astros first base coach Rich Dauer celebrated as Houston won its first World Series. Two days later, he joined a massive victory parade through a million Astros fans in downtown Houston. And hours after that, he came within a hairsbreadth of dying.
Over at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal has the remarkable story of how close Dauer came to dying right there in the middle of the parade, a victim of an undiagnosed acute subdural hematoma. Only emergency brain surgery, and a series of remarkable coincidences, kept him alive and recovering in miraculous fashion.
Dauer had slipped on a wet floor and hit his head the night before the parade, but hadn’t told anyone. The day of the parade, he was woozy and reeling, to the point that several other coaches asked him if he was feeling well. He wasn’t.
The team’s medical officials sprung into action and began making arrangements to get Dauer to an ambulance. They assumed he was dehydrated, exhausted after the rigors of the season and the exultation of celebrating. But it was far worse, and the crowds around Dauer only made his situation that much more critical.
Medical personnel had to wend through three blocks’ worth of fans to get him to the ambulance, and the ambulance itself couldn’t move for half an hour. By then, word had begun to spread, and Dauer’s family and friends began converging on Houston.
From there, you really should read the entire story to get the full impact, but among the happy coincidences/correct choices: the ambulance driver wove through the crowd, medical personnel made the correct choice of hospital, a neurosurgeon just happened to be one building away doing paperwork when Dauer arrived, and so forth.
The upshot: a guy who was given a three percent chance of survival, and a high likelihood of brain damage, ended up living and is recovering well.
“If any of the dominos had fallen differently,” Astros head physician Dr. David Lintner said, “we’d be having a very different conversation.” But everything fell Dauer’s way. Read the full amazing story.
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