When Gabby Giffords, one of Arizona's delegates to the House of Representatives, was shot in the head in January, her condition looked grim. Because, after all, it was a gunshot wound to the head. But just weeks after the shooting, her condition had drastically improved, and now, less than a year later, the Congresswoman has regained her ability to walk, talk, read and she even has a goal of returning to Congress. While progress is slow, as evidenced in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, her recovery is nothing short of a miracle...

And her story isn't the only one. Here are five of the most horrific deaths ever cheated.

Miracles don't only happen to humans. In October 2011, Daniel the beagle became famous as the "miracle dog," when he survived a puppy mill gas chamber. The puppy, who had been dumped outside an Alabama shelter, was chosen to be euthanized with several other dogs in a box that was pumped with carbon monoxide. When workers opened the door, Daniel, who was named for the biblical character who was thrown to the lions but survived, came bounding out. He was recently adopted by a family in New Jersey.

Surviving a gunshot is one thing, but surviving a decapitation? Nine-year-old Jordan Taylor was in a devastating car accident with his mother in 2008. Stacy Perez recounted seeing him in the back seat after the crash, "I remember getting out of the car and looking over at him and seeing how his head had just fallen down." The force of the impact had separated his skull from his spine, resulting in an "internal decapitation." His chances of surviving were two percent, and even if he did, it was likely he would be completely paralyzed. But after an operation that required doctors to reattach his skull with screws, metal plates and rods, he started recovering rapidly. Three months later, he walked out of the hospital.

In 2009, a 26-year-old Cleveland lab tech was shot, execution-style, in the head during a mugging. Doctors said the injury was "nonsurvivable." While Giffords' bullet wound had only passed through one side of her brain, Jory Aebly's point-blank shot passed through both hemispheres and left bullet fragments in his skull. But Aebly survived, and just 37 days after the shooting, he was released from the hospital. Less than a year later, he testified in the murder trial of Joaquin Hicks, recounting in detail what happened that night when his friend Jeremy Pechanec was killed, but Aebly miraculously survived.


The likelihood of surviving a four-story fall is 50%. The likelihood of surviving a 47-story fall? A hair above zero. But 37-year-old window washer Alcides Moreno did just that in 2008 when the three-foot platform he was working on with his brother, Edgar, who didn't survive, plunged 500 feet down the side of a New York City skyscraper. Doctors operated on him immediately in the emergency room because they didn't want to risk moving him into an OR. On Christmas day, 17 days and nine operations after the freak accident, he spoke to his wife. Six months later, he was back on his feet with nothing more than a limp.

It's not every day that a person is brutally mauled by an angry chimpanzee, especially one that's famous for starring in Old Navy commercials and drinking red wine, but Charla Nash learned the hard way that it's not impossible. In February 2009, Nash went to Sandra Herold's home in North Stamford, CT. Herold, her friend and Travis the chimpanzee's owner, was having problems controlling Travis, who had been acting up all day. As soon as Nash got out of her car, Travis attacked her, tearing the majority of her face and hands off. Nash miraculously survived the vicious attack and recovered before she revealed herself for the first time nine months later on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. In August 2011, Nash made her first public appeared on the Today Show after receiving a face transplant that restored her ability to smell and eat, although she is still blind.

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When rescue workers pulled Dale Ostrander out of the water in Long Beach, WA, he was, by all accounts, dead. The 12-year-old had been trapped underwater for 20 minutes by a riptide and he wasn't breathing and had no pulse. But Ostrander miraculously "came back from the dead," opening his eyes four days later. Medical professionals have chalked up his survival to the cold water—hypothermia protects the brain when it's oxygen-starved—but his parents believe it was nothing short of a miracle.

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