NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Doctors feared a teenager would never walk again after he broke two vertebrae last December while taking part in a polar plunge on Staten Island.
But these days, Michael Wright is defying the odds.
As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu found out Thursday, the young man has taken a remarkable road to recovery.
Wright, who was 17 years old at the time, was participating in the polar plunge to help raise money for the Special Olympics, but broke his neck in the process. Luckily, he was quickly rushed to the hospital, where he underwent four hours of surgery.
His chances of recovery, however, were considered very slim.
“It’s less than 1 percent chance based on the literature and my experience. It is somewhat of a miracle, yes,” said Dr. Edwin Chang, Chair of Neurology at Northwell Health. “Even when we saw him move one single toe after the surgery we were very elated.”
Web Extra: SI Teen Learns To Walk After Polar Plunge Paralysis:
Amazingly, just four months later Wright is now walking and speaks to other spinal injury patients about his recovery.
“Obviously, it feels really good, but it also gives me a lot of faith, and a lot of happiness to be here,” Wright said. “They just talk to me and they say that I inspire them and I just tell them to work hard, because, obviously, good things are going to happen afterwards.”
Dr. Chang said he’s seen hundreds of spinal cord injuries, and noted that Michael’s successful recovery is the second one to turn out so well.
Wright’s mother said her son was selfless throughout the entire ordeal.
“He is wonderful and he is an angel and he’ll be in our lives forever,” Melissa Wright said. “Through this whole process never once did he cry. He was always worried about me and my husband and our family.”
Michael, who does rehabilitation three days a week at the hospital, will graduate from high school in June and will walk across the stage to get his diploma. He then plans to study law at John Jay College.