Defying The Odds: Columbus Woman Makes Miraculous Recovery From Life-Changing Injury


She was a 19-year-old student, driving to work, when her life changed forever. She woke up to a terrible prognosis, but thanks to a local surgeon and her own steel will, she is charting her own path to recovery.

Life is about steps.

For Dimare Saa, that's always meant goals and a plan to achieve them.

"So I have to do this in this amount of time, and then I have to keep going so I can get everything done."

Even steps slow and cautious got her closer. But everything stopped the morning of August 15, 2013.

"I remember being in the middle lane and a black truck came from the side. I remember my car flipped. It flipped a few times before landing in the trees. It felt kind of like being buried alive. I remember trying to move, not being able to move."

The damage done to her car was nothing compared to the damage to her body.

"Dimare's injury was actually one of the worst grades of possible injuries,” said Dr. Francis Farhadi, a neurosurgeon at OSU Wexner Medical Center. Dimare’s neck was broken, her spine cord crushed. "You can see there's severe misalignment in her spine, with one of the bones slipped forward on the other one, and the bones broken in the back of her neck,” he said.

Doctor Farhadi performed a delicate surgery involving spinal compression to realign her spine and relieve the pressure on her spinal cord.

Still, her prospects were not good.

"They said I had very slim chances- five to ten percent of ever moving or regaining function again,” she said. "I was literally like a baby all over again. I had to learn to roll over, I had to learn to sit up on my own, I had to learn to crawl, feed myself, do my own hair, brush my own teeth, even potty training."

Desperation turned into defiance.

"It was fear and panic, and then I was like, nope! I got angry. I was like no, that's not going to be me," she said.

In the face of enormous odds, even a toe wiggle became momentous.

"That was when I set my two-month goal. That's when I was like, see what's happening right now, we're going to up to two months, and then I'll be walking.”

One step leading to another, surprising herself and even her doctors.

Today, Dimare walks, with plans to run. "I want to be able to ride a bike, I want to be able to jog," she said.

But she is grateful for every step. Slow and cautious, and ever closer to her goals. "I like my life so much better now than I did before, in a weird way. Before, you take things for granted and you take people for granted. Now everything becomes cherished."

Dimare Saa today.

This week the OSU Wexner Medical Center announced plans for a new Brain and Spine Hospital to treat injuries like Dimare's. After a multi-million dollar renovation, it will be housed in the former James Cancer Hospital.

Dimare says her next goal is to run by this Spring.