They say that the human spirit is indomitable if the will is strong.
We see inspirational cases of human victories every day – an olympian breaking a world record, scientists coming up with a piece of technology out of this world, citizens surviving a crippling terrorist attack with their heads held high.
But sometimes some humans are faced with a situation that doesn’t warrant survival at all – or so we think.
Even in these situations, the human spirit has endured, and in an awesome way.
1. Andes plane crash survivors ate human meat to survive 72 days in sub-zero temperatures
In 1972, a plane carrying the Uruguay rugby players crashed in the Andes. 12 people died in the crash and the survivors braced against minus 30 degrees Celcius temperatures and scarce food supplies.
They even resorted to eating the meat of their dead team members to survive.
After spending 72 miserable days in the harsh snow, two of the survivors decided to trek through the mountains and get help. 16 people survived as a result.
2. Anatoli Burgoski got hit by a supercharged proton beam from a particle accelerator
Particle accelerators are a miraculous piece of engineering. Protons are accelerated to the speed of light. They carry massive amounts of energy when they are accelerated to those speeds. Burgosky was a scientist who worked in the largest particle accelerator in Russia.
During a routine maintenance job, he was hit by one such accelerated proton beam, that entered through his nose and came out through the back of his head. It ideally should have killed him on the spot but he survived, albeit with side effects like seizures and headaches and fatigue.
3. Roy Sullivan survived 7 lightning strikes in his lifetime
From 1942 to 1977, Roy was struck by lightning a record 7 times. He survived all of them. the most serious injury he got from these strikes was an injured ankle and chest burns.
Otherwise, he lived to tell the tale all the seven times.
4. Truman Duncan was cut in half by a train and survived for 45 minutes before help arrived
Truman Duncan came under a train and was literally cut in half. He lost both his kidneys and had to wait for 45 minutes before the emergency medical experts arrived on scene.
He underwent 23 surgeries and survived.
5. Mauro Prosperi survived 9 days in Sahara desert by drinking bat blood and eating snakes
There are marathon races where people run over 42 kilometers. Then there are super marathons where people attempt to run more than 200 kilometers in the desert.
Mauro was one such runner and while running, he lost his way in a sandstorm. He was lost in the middle of the Sahara desert for 9 days. He ate bats and snakes and drank his own pee before he was rescued by wandering nomads.
In those 9 days, he lost 18 kilos of weight.
6. Juliane Koepcke fell 3 kilometers in a plane and survived 10 days in harsh rainforest in Peru
A plane carrying 92 passengers went out of control and started on a downward spin over Peru. The plane fell from the height of almost 3 kilometers. Juliane Koepcke was the sole survivor who sat in her seat strapped and lived to tell the tale.
But her ordeal was not over yet. She had to survive the harsh rainforest for 10 days before finding help and successfully making it out alive.
7. Jose Salvador Alvarenga floated 13 months on the Pacific Ocean
Jose Salvador spent 13 months on a life raft, drifting through the Pacific Ocean. He ate fish, turtles and drank rain water and urine. He even drank bird blood to quench his thirst before he was finally rescued.
He drifted nearly 10,000 kilometers in those 13 months.
8. Harrison Okene lived on an air bubble underwater for 3 days without food or water
A small tugboat capsized and all except one of the crew died due to drowning. But Harrison found a pocket of air in one of the rooms in the boat. He kept on piling the mattresses under him so that he could breathe the air that was rapidly depleting.
He was rescued by a salvage crew that only went into the wreck to retrieve the dead bodies. Harrison survived without water and food in complete darkness for 3 days.
9. Matthew Allen roamed the Australian outback for more than 2 months before being rescued
The Australian Outback is one of the harshest places on Earth. Add to this the brutal heatwave Aussies faced in 2012. In these conditions, Matthew Allen got lost in the outback. He roamed the harsh landscape for 9 weeks, surviving on just water from creeks.
He was found by hikers in a malnourished state where he lost almost half his body mass in the 9 weeks of the ordeal.
10. Reshma Begum was buried alive in an earthquake and was found 17 days later
In 2013, a big earthquake hit Dhaka in Bangladesh. Thousands of people were buried under the debris. Most of them died. Reshma Begum was one of the lucky ones who was alive after she was buried. She lived underground for a whopping 17 days, surviving on only dried food and water.
Rescuers found her body after they heard banging among the ruins.
11. Jim Thompson survived 9 years of torture as a Vietnamese Prison Of War
Jim Thompson was a US soldier who fought in the Vietnam war. He was captured by Vietcong and was tortured for 9 years. Yes, 9 long years. He somehow made it through all the beatings, torture and starvation and diseases and made it back to the United States after he was rescued.
He weighed just 40 kilos when he was rescued.
12. Poon Lim survived 133 days at sea by drinking bird blood and eating shark flesh
Poon was a steward on one of the British ships during the Second World War. His ship was blown up and he managed to hang on to a liferaft that would become his companion for the next 133 days. He had a box of biscuits but they didn’t last long. He fished by using cans as fish hooks.
He even caught a shark to eat it and drank bird blood to quench his thirst.
The United States Navy teach survival techniques used by Poon to its personnel.
13. Meng brothers ate coal and drank urine and dug themselves out of a collapsed coal mine
the Meng brothers worked in a coal mine in China. The mine crashed one day with the Meng brothers inside it. They were buried under 66 feet of solid coal. A rescue team tried to get them out but gave up midway.
The brothers didn’t. They kept on digging with just one pick ax. They drank their own urine and even ate coal to take the edge off the hunger.
They did get out, with resolve better than the wuss rescue team.
14. Brent Case survived a brutal bear attack where he almost lost his head
Brent Case was a surveyor in Canada who encountered a 500-kilo bear in the forest. The bear charged at him and brent decided to play dead.
But the bear mauled him and even started to eat his head, as the picture above shows.When Brent played the part of being dead very convincingly the bear decided to abandon him and moved away. Gravely injured, but fully alive.
15. Alexis Goggins survived 6 bullets shot point blank at her
Alexis Goggins was just 6 years old when she and her mother were kidnapped by a mad gun-wielding man. After things got ugly the cowardly shooter shot her mom twice beforeAlexis jumped in the middle and took six bullets point blank for her mom.
She survived the incident and showed grit that most of us would not dream of in three lifetimes.
16. Isidro Mejia was admitted with 6 nails in his skull
In the west, they use nail guns where the construction workers don’t have to hammer them in. These nails are shot out like bullets, saving energy and time.
Isidro was a construction worker who fell on one of these nail guns. As a result, 6 nails were shot into his head. But thankfully they missed his brain and spinal cord, and he lived a full life after the doctors took out the nails out of his head.
17. Phineas Gage who survived a bar through his skull and brain
If six nails weren’t enough Phineas had to endure a big piece of iron go through his cheek and out through the top of the skull. In this case, the rod damaged the brain, but Phineas lived on. The injury, however, did harm his frontal cortex in his brain which is responsible for normal society functioning.
He began behaving weirdly because he had no sense of how he should behave around people.
18. Bill Morgan survived a road accident and a coma to win the lottery
Bill Morgan was involved in a brutal truck accident which almost crushed him. He somehow survived and during the rehabilitation in the hospital, he went into a coma for 12 days. He survived the coma too, just when they were going to pull the plug on him.
Then he went ahead and bought a lottery ticket to celebrate life. And he won!
They were all normal men and women like you and me. No hardcore training the Navy Seals and Army commandoes get, but they still came out on top, in situations that should have killed them.
How did they not give up at all?
It is because of courage – the true courage that doesn’t extinguish even when you do not have the strength to fight.