Refusing to Die: The Chris Dunn Story


On July 7, 2018, Chris Dunn survived a freak diving accident that left him paralyzed, on a ventilator and mostly blind only to face an even more hellish reality: a year living in a Maine ICU fighting for his right to go to rehab and get back to living his life.

Other than a short-lived attempt to return home a few months after the accident, Dunn, 44, did not leave the ICU for over a year. There were no local rehab centers that could accommodate his needs and after initial efforts to find an out of state rehab failed, he found himself stuck.

Unable to see, eat, breathe or move on his own, with little to no access to therapy, Dunn, a father and concrete worker, spent day after day lying in bed listening to the History Channel and hoping for a chance — just a chance — to show he could do more. After hearing Dunn describe his stay, perhaps the best way to describe what he went through is a living nightmare. “I’m pretty sure they just wanted to kill me,” he says. “I wasn’t too happy. It sucked.”

The notion of a hospital wanting to kill a patient may seem far-fetched, but when you consider that administrators repeatedly urged Dunn’s mom, Carol, to consider putting him in hospice the nightmare becomes much more real.

“I cried and felt so desperate. I was scared to death every day and didn’t want to wake up because I knew there would be a fight,” says Carol. “I’d go into a room and I was outnumbered by doctors, nurses and case workers and as it went on, more and more came in. They thought if they increased the numbers I would give in.  But you don’t give in for your child.  You don’t give in for somebody who wants to live.  And Chris told me, ‘Mom, I can do this.’ He wanted to live.”

Read the full story at UnitedSpinal.org…

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