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Health: Real Life Drama For Local Man; Amazing Pictures Captured By ER Doctors

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Hospital emergency departments see all kinds of crazy stuff.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has one case that was especially delicate and risky. It's a picture you've got to see to believe.

A knife in the back. The blade dangerously close to the spinal cord.

"It was really in a remarkable bad position," said Dr. Neil Malhotra, a Neurosurgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The slightest movement could be disastrous for Michael Moody, who'd been stabbed by his brother.

"It wasn't his fault.  His medication wasn't right, so he kind of like heard voices and stuff, and he thought that I was a burglar.

Transported by ambulance on his side, Moody stayed calm.  But at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania doctors explained he could end up paralyzed or worse.

"Oh man I thought it was the end," said Moody.

Dr. Malhotra says it's rare for a knife to be able to penetrate bones in the spine.  Removing it would be extremely risky.

"Due to the limitations of what we can accomplish with a knife in the spinal cord there was a fairly high chance that he would never walk again," said Dr. Malhotra.

Among the many challenges, how to get Moody on his back to insert a breathing tube.  For that they created a special table, then came the delicate task of removing the knife.

"We had to use a special instrument, an ultrasonic bone cutter that allowed me to put laser light cuts around the base of the knife, so I could take it out without damaging the spinal cord," said Dr. Malhotra.

It worked, days after the surgery Moody was healing and up walking.

"You get this opportunity to keep someone walking, that's a great feeling," said Dr. Malhotra.

"I feel very, very lucky.  Very, very lucky," said Moody.

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