Jordan Taylor, a nine year old boy from Hillsboro, Texas, is making a rare and astonishing recovery from surgery to reattach his head to his neck after suffering an orthopedic decapitation three months ago; the youngster was buckled in the back seat of a car his mother was driving when they were hit by a dump truck that the authorities say ran a stop sign.

Jordan’s doctors said he had a less than 2 per cent chance of surviving such an injury. The energy of the collision made his head lift up, away from his neck and then travel forward.

Dr Richard Roberts of Cook Childrens’ Medical Center in Fort Worth is the pediatric neurosurgeon who performed Jordan’s life-saving operation. He said that Jordan’s spinal cord had luckily remained intact, although his skull had separated from his neck.

Roberts said Jordan’s recovery is beyond what anyone was expecting.

“His injury is normally catastrophic, fatal, and he managed to survive,” he said.

“All of the connective tissue that essentially keeps your head connected to your neck was destroyed,” Roberts told CBS News.

Jordan’s mother, Stacey Perez, said she remembered seeing Jordan’s “head was just kinda just hanging down”. She also suffered extensive injuries and has made a full recovery.

During the life-saving operation, Jordan’s doctors re-attached his skull with a metal plate and rods made of titanium.

His mother appeared on the Early Show and said she hadn’t been told about the seriousness of Jordan’s condition until a week later.

Roberts said they were very soon able to see how serious Jordan’s injury was. He told Harry Smith, co-anchor of the Early Show that:

“As soon as we saw his radiographs, his MRI CT scan, we knew how bad his injury was.”

The first priority was to stabilize Jordan, which involved placing him in a “halo”, a ring made of carbon fiber that they screwed to his skull and secured to a vest around his chest. Only then was Jordan ready to operate on.

Jordan’s mother told CBS News that when the accident first happened all she wanted to do was “wake up from that bad dream”, but now she doesn’t want to be woken up from this one. She said she was truly grateful to Cooks’ Children’s Hospital, she never thought she and Jordan would be out of there by Christmas.

While he was in hospital Jordan received several visits from famous sports people, including Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

After his operation Jordan was in ICU, and there they were very cautious before speculating that he was probably not going to be paralyzed, said his mother. It was only when he moved to the TUC, the transitional care unit, that his full recuperation started. Very soon Jordan progressed from wheelchair to walking with a frame and then walking unaided.

“At first, he wasn’t talking at all, and they thought he would have brain damage, and he surprised everyone by regaining all this speech,” said Perez.

Roberts said Jordan has made a full recovery: he is “neurologically intact”. His youth was a big factor on his side, “he has better tissue than someone who is 60 or 70,” he said.

Jordan is due to return to school early January. His spectacular recovery is probably the best Christmas present he and his mother could have wished for.

Sources: CBS News.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD