Beauty queen relives the grisly moment she woke to find part of her skull bulging out of her STOMACHJamie Hilton, 36, slipped and hit her head on a rock during a fishing tripSurgeons removed part of her skull as her brain was swellingStored it in her stomach for 42 days to keep the bone nourishedMrs Hilton was crowned Mrs Idaho 2009 and competed in Mrs America
15:50 GMT, 1 October 2012
A former beauty queen who had a quarter of her skull removed and then
stored in her stomach for six weeks after a near-fatal fishing accident has revealed her shock as she woke to find her a portion of her head missing.
removed the rear quarter of Jamie Hilton's skull and placed it in her
abdomen, which enabled the bone to remain sterile and nourished while brain
swelling from a head injury subsided.
Mrs Hilton, 36, who won Mrs. Idaho in 2009 and competed in the Mrs. America beauty contests, told the Today show: 'I remember lifting the gown, looking down and seeing this bulge in stomach, and thinking, “Is this real”'
Tales of survival: Jamie Hilton, a former beauty queen who had a quarter of her skull removed, and stored in her stomach for six weeks has spoken of her remarkable recovery and the moment she woke from the ordeal
'When I woke up, I was surrounded by family. I could feel the joy when I opened my eyes, so the feeling in the room was good before they showed me my skull,' the mother-of-three added.
'I'm just so grateful the moment my feet
touch the ground. The mundane isn't so mundane any more – I get make
breakfast and take my kids to school. I'm so happy.'
Mrs Hilton's skull remained in her abdomen for 42 days until it was re-attached in a successful operation and now, three months after her near death experience she has returned home, and is considered a 'walking miracle.'
The former beauty queen's brush with death came after
she joined her husband Nick and brother-in-law Greg on a salmon fishing
trip to Hell's Canyon in Idaho in June.
As she tried to reel in her first fish she lost her footing and fell 12ft on to a boulder. Her husband scrambled down to his wife and found her unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing.
Emotional: The mother-of-three woke surrounded by her family, she said, 'I could feel the joy when I opened my eyes, so the feeling in the room was good before they showed me my skull'
Walking miracle: Mrs Hilton's skull remained in her abdomen for 42 days until it was re-attached in a successful operation and now, three months after her near death experience she has returned home
Mom's musketeers: The mother-of-three said, 'I'm just so grateful the moment my feet touch the ground. I get to take my kids to school. I'm so happy'
When he lifted her, Mrs Hilton began breathing again and nearby Forest Ranger called for emergency services, where she was airlifted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, with severe brain swelling.
Mr Hilton said: 'I just knew it was
going to bad, I wasn't sure if I was screaming her name out loud or in
my head, but I knew I had to get her out of there as quickly as I
Mrs Hilton's family was warned that the next 72
hours would decide if she lived or died, and they took the decision to
remove a quarter of her skull until the brain swelling went down.
The skull portion remained in her abdomen for 42 days until it was removed and sutured back onto its original place.
Ted Schwartz, a professor of neurology at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center explained the procedure, which allows a swollen
brain to expand beyond the confines of the skull bone.
Accident: Mrs Hilton, who was Mrs Idaho 2009, slipped during a fishing trip and hit her head on a boulder. As he brain swelled, doctors took out part of her skull (right) for more than a month to allow the brain to expand
Safe: The skull was put in her stomach to keep the bone nourished for after the brain swelling went down
In hospital: After 42 days, the piece of skull was then put back into Jamie's head in a successful operation
'It's called a hemicraniectomy, which is carried out relatively routinely in order to relieve swelling.
'The skull is a closed cavity, so when that swelling occurs, the pressure goes up in the head and that can be very dangerous. And one of the best options is actually to implant the skull into the abdomean.
He added: 'It's not only sterile but it travels with you. For example Bob Woodruff, the news reporter, had a hemicraniectomy
in Afghanistan. he was able to travel with the bone in his belly and
they were able to put it back onto his head in the United States.'
As Mrs Hilton came round from the operation she called the doctor over to her and said: 'Thank you for what you have done. You have saved my life!'
On her blog site where her recovery was detailed Mrs Hilton, from Boise, Idaho, revealed: 'NOTHING in this world really matters to me today other than I AM HERE. I am on this GLORIOUS earth with my unbelievable family.'
On the mend: Hilton, 36, has been blogging about her progress and has returned to work
Support: Mrs Hilton, who was Mrs Idaho in 2009, has three children with her husband Nick, pictured
'I can snuggle my kids, kiss my husband,
hang out with my mom, and LIVE. My heart feels like it could explode
with GRATITUDE. My cup is running over with joy and happiness. Is
everything in my life perfect No. But today I AM ALIVE!'
'Surgery went as well as expected! My skull is back in my head… really weird to say ;),' she said. 'Stitches this time, not staples! They are scheduled to come out August 3rd. yeah! So for now the only possible problems, are infection, or my body rejecting the skull being back in my head.
'Your prayers are FELT and APPRECIATED! Never in my life have I FELT the prayers and faith of others in my behalf. What a marvelous experience. THANK YOU!'
Jamie posted a photo of the skull in her abdomen on her blog page entitled 'Miracles believe in them' as well as a photo showing a scar running the length of her head.
Since recovering she has returned to work in the family taxi business as she attempts to clear a six figure medical bill for her life saving surgery.