Bull rider, 16, who ‘died’ three times makes miracle recovery

A 16-year-old rodeo competitor whose heart stopped three times after being run over by a bull is alive and well – and returning to the ring – after his surgeon massaged his heart back to life with his own hands.

Wyatt Bruesch suffered the same injury that killed Princess Diana when he was bucked off a bull and trampled on May 19, breaking a rib that pierced the vein connecting his heart to his lungs. 

The vessel is so wide – bigger than the width of a human thumb – that within 10 minutes of ripping it the chest becomes overwhelmed with so much blood that it is incredibly difficult to stem.

It is a common injury in victims of gunshots, stabbings and car crashes, but surviving it is almost unheard of. 

Bruesch, of Albion, Idaho, became the first person at Portneuf Medical Center this century to survive the rare, last-ditch open-chest operation trauma surgeons use for that specific injury. 

‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my career,’ trauma director Drew McRoberts told DailyMail.com. 

Shock survival: Wyatt Bruesch, 16, was out of hospital within six days after he ripped the vein that connects his heart to his lungs – and injury that few people survive

Wyatt is new to bull-riding. He started in October 2017, and was soon entering himself into rodeos. 

He was impressing judges, but on May 19 at the Idaho District 6 High School Rodeo Tournament he got bucked by his bull and hit the ground with the same force of being hit by a train. 

Then the bull repeatedly trampled the left side of his body, breaking one of his ribs.

‘Ribs are so sharp. You break a rib and it turns into a dagger,’ Dr McRoberts explained. 

‘I’ve cut myself on broken ribs before [while performing surgery], they are sharper than you think. So when Wyatt’s rib broke, it literally sliced his inferior pulmonary vein like a dagger.’

This injury strikes about one rodeo competitor a year in his county, and it’s been well over two decades since anyone survived it.

Wyatt, pictured before his injury, only started bull-riding in October but excelled at it to the extent that he was competing in rodeos - until he was bucked and 'died' three times in a day

Wyatt, pictured before his injury, only started bull-riding in October but excelled at it to the extent that he was competing in rodeos – until he was bucked and ‘died’ three times in a day

When Wyatt fell from the bull, the event’s medical team rushed to get him onto a ventilator before he was airlifted to Portneuf, the leading trauma center in the area. 

Dr McRoberts explained that the surgery they performed, an emergency department thoracotomy, is a ‘last-ditch’ operation. 

Known also as a ‘resuscitative thoracotomy’ or ‘cracking the chest’, it is one of the most controversial operations surgeons perform.

It was the only way surgeons could access the thorax in the 1800s. In the 1960s, external defibrillation and other less aggressive methods were developed. 

But in times of emergency, it remains the quickest way to access the pulmonary veins – literally cracking the chest open to get to it. 

To do it, the surgeon makes an incision between the fourth and fifth ribs, then physically pulling back the muscles and the ribs to get to the heart. 

‘We only do the thoracotomy as a last-ditch effort. In other words, the patient’s dead already,’ he said. 

Wyatt had allegedly already flat-lined twice by the time he arrived at Dr McRoberts’ center.  

‘I’ve seen this injury many times but I’ve never seen anyone survive. When he arrived at our place, he had bled so much into his chest that he was bleeding to death.

‘He was being cared for when his heart stopped. That’s when we had to go in.’

Trauma surgeon Jorge Amorim opened Wyatt’s chest, grabbed the vessel and his heart with his hands, and massaged it. Within seconds, his heart was beating again. 

‘You’re trained to do it, but you never think it will actually be a success,’ Dr McRoberts said. 

‘It helped that Wyatt was young and healthy but, really, the chance of someone surviving that, and of that surgery actually working… you just never see it.’

Astonishingly, Wyatt was discharged six days later. 

And now, he’s donning his chaps once more to get back on the bull.  

‘It was all pretty amazing,’ Dr McRoberts said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk