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Toddler makes miraculous recovery from an injury that kills nearly everyone

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

4-year-old Nevada boy survives internal decapitation after horrific car accident

A 4-year-old Nevada boy is expected to make a full recovery after suffering an injury that kills the majority of people who experience it.

Killian and his mother Brandy Gonzalez were heading back home after a trip to Idaho to celebrate his birthday when an icy road caused their car to swerve into another.

A local police officer and his wife were the first people on the scene and kept the screaming young boy still until paramedics arrived.

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"I'm trying to stay calm but inside I'm panicking. I'm thinking I don't know what I'm doing, and it was the worst feeling I've ever had to not know how to help," Leah Woodward told local news affiliate KBOI2. She held his neck perfectly still for almost 30 minutes, a move that likely saved his life.

"I had my hands kind of, like, thumbs by his ears and hands wrapped behind his neck holding it still," she told The New York Times. "He didn’t fight, he was not moving; every now and then he would come to.

"I am just glad I did not know his injuries at the time," she added.

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Internal decapitation is the common term for atlanto-occipital dislocation, a horrific injury caused when the ligaments, muscles and joints of the skull and spine are separated through trauma and are only held together by the spinal cord. Only 30 percent of people manage to survive the injury — and those who do must go through invasive surgery that fuses the cervical spine to the base of the skull, leaving the person unable to turn his head.

Amazingly, Killian didn't have to go through surgery and he's expected to make a full recovery from the internal decapitation and other injuries, including a ruptured spleen, broken arm and ribs.

"He's shocked everyone there. They keep telling me he's the talk of the hospital," his mom told KBOI2.

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