Lady left with no abdomen after her seatbelt ripped through her stomach ‘like a sword’ when she flipped car in horror crash

Gina Arnold, 22, from Michigan, lost control while driving in the rain, causing her car to flip seven times before hitting a tree.

The accident, which occurred in October 2017, left Gina in a coma for three days, with two collapsed lungs and a complete tear in her abdominal wall.

Strains and tears to the abdominal wall are relatively common, but Gina’s injury was so severe doctors were left unsure of how to treat it.

She said: “They described my abdominal wall being cut like a sword by the seat belt.

Even though it did save my life, it caused many life threatening injuries and tore my whole abdominal wall right in half.

There hasn’t been a case like that they knew of in America – without a complete abdominal wall.

Even though it was a whole abdominal wall tear there is no specific name for it, so I am under the traumatic hernia category because it basically is one giant hernia.

A hernia occurs when a internal part of the body pushes through a tear or weakness in the muscle or tissue surrounding it, most commonly somewhere in the abdomen.

Gina spent three months in hospital, mostly in intensive care, and endured 20 surgeries on her abdomen.

She said:

I don’t remember what happened, I just know people told me it was raining – I lost control.

The person behind me said my car flipped seven times and hit a tree.

My whole body was so swollen they couldn’t see for weeks what kind of broken bones I had.

Even once Gina had been stabilised, doctors had to warn Gina’s parents that he future was unclear.

The pain was the worst pain I have ever felt – I basically had to learn to walk again,

“They even told me I might never leave a hospital setting or live a good quality of life, she said.

In an attempt to repair Gina’s abdominal wall, surgeons tried loosening the broken muscle with Botox, but that failed multiple times.

Even after she was discharged, her stomach at one point swelled to three times its size because her intestines were without their usual tightly-coiled structure.

When I got out of the hospital I was nowhere near close to recovery and I had no abdominal wall, no mesh, no nothing,” she said.

If I was to get hit in the stomach, it would put me out for days so doctors put me on bed rest until they thought of a surgical plan.

As well as the damage to my abdomen, I had tons of bruises, a broken shoulder, and clavicle.

Luckily I had no brain damage, just a major concussion.

It was 14 months on from the accident before surgeons were able to decide on the best procedure, and Gina eventually underwent an eight-hour surgery to keep her abdominal wall in place.

It was an extremely risky surgery and the first time my surgeon did something like this, she further said.

They basically took a huge piece of mesh and wrapped it around my stomach.

The biggest risk [was that] the muscles I did have remaining were at risk of tearing because of how thin and weak they were.

Surgeons had been concerned that Gina’s body would reject the mesh used to repair her abdomen, but the surgery went as planned and 18 months on Gina is continuing her recovery.

The police who responded to my accident thought they were walking to a dead body when they seen my car ripped in half and me partially ejected out of the vehicle, she added.

It is a part of my life now because everyday I learn what I can and cannot do.

One day I’ll be in so much pain I can barely get out of bed and the next day I could feel perfectly fine.

It’s about learning my limits. For example, I can’t jump or lift over 15 lbs again in my entire life,

They have made it very clear there is no plan B for me yet so I have to be extremely careful with how I live my life.

I was able to survive something so crazy and so rare, so I’m just grateful to still be here , she ended.


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