Alcides Moreno must believe in fate.
When he was first brought in by paramedics on that fateful day, December 7, 2007, his wife Rosario recalled to the Associated Press how he had told her “it just wasn’t his time.” It’s difficult to disagree.
Tasked with washing the windows of the 47-story Solow Tower in Manhattan, Alcides and his brother Edgar had only just started the task at hand when the scaffold they were using collapsed. Edgar fell off the scaffold, travelling at a speed of a round 124 mph before hitting the top of a brick wall and dying instantly.
Alcides, however, was more fortunate. Clinging on to the aluminum platform that had given way, he was able to create some wind resistance while also blunting some of the force felt when he finally did he the concrete below.
Even so, the 37-year-old was in bad shape when paramedics brought him in following his 500-foot fall. He’s suffered multiple breaks in both his legs, his right arm and wrist. He’d sustained serious injuries to his abdomen, chest and spinal column while his brain was bleeding.
Doctors pumped him with 24 units of blood while he was also given plasma and platelets to stimulate clotting and deal with the issue of haemorrhaging. Incisions to the skull and abdomen also helped relieve the pressure on his organs and reduce the swelling.
Even then it was touch and go. Doctors claim even the slightest jolt could have killed him, making the process of the nine orthopedic operations required to fix his broken body all the more miraculous. All told he underwent 16 surgeries, repairing collapsed lungs, damaged kidneys and 10 broken bones.
Luck undoubtedly played a part though. Incredibly Moreno had managed to avoid the kind of spinal injury that would have resulted in paralysis while his head injuries were minor considering the fall. After 18 days spent on a ventilator, Alcides spoke for the first time, asking his wife: “What did I do?”
A lengthy rehabilitation programme followed but in perhaps the most surprising part of the whole story, Moreno is now back on his feet and walking, albeit slowly. Awarded an undisclosed fee after scaffold company Tractel was found guilty of negligence, his brother’s family received even more following their loss, with Edgar buried back in their homeland in Ecuador.
Alcides out-of-court settlement, thought to be even more, has allowed his family to move into a bigger home in a more affluent part of New York, where he recently competed a 5k charity walk.
Speaking to the New York Post at the time of Moreno’s shock recovery Dr. Sheldon Teperman, director of trauma and critical-care surgery at Jacobi Medical Center, put the scale of the miracle in perspective:
“Fifty percent of people who fall four to five stories die. By the time you reach 10 or 11 stories, just about everyone dies.”
Alcides fell 47 stories and not only lived to tell the tale but walk again. Part of this incredible story is down to the excellent work of the medical staff, part of that is down to Moreno’s own resilience but New York-Presbyterian Hospital chief of surgery Dr Philip Barie has another idea.
“If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one,” he declared at the time.
It’s difficult to disagree.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.