'Amazing results': UW Health team saves student given less than 10% chance of survival after suffering fall

’Amazing results’: UW Health team saves student given less than 10% chance of survival after suffering fall

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- With another weekend upon us, the parents of a UW-Madison senior have a message for college students who plan to head out to the bars: don't let a friend leave a party or bar alone.

Their son nearly lost his life trying to get back to his apartment drunk and on his own. Thanks to tremendous medical care and determination, he's able to share his against all odds story of survival and recovery.

Connor Keith is grateful to be playing with his family's dog, Gus, on this late summer day, seven months removed from a cold winter night his parents will never forget, but a night Connor will never remember. 

"I'm very glad that I didn't know then what I know now," said Connor's mom, Nancy Keith.

"My memory from most of that day is completely gone, since it did affect up here," said Connor.

While walking home alone after a night of drinking with friends, Connor fell 12 feet from a wall, landing on his head. 

A UW Health neurosurgeon removed two pieces of Keith's skull and put him in a drug-induced coma to relive the pressure on his brain.

"When you have this severe damage coming out from coma, and to have a meaningful outcome is probably less than 10%," said Dr. Mustafa Baskaya. 

Not only meaningful -- Connor's outcome has been in many respects, miraculous thanks to the emergency care hours after the fall and months of therapy at the UW Health Rehab Hospital. 

"When he was in the rehab hospital, he literally put on hundreds of miles up and down the halls," said Stuart Keith, Connor's dad. 

"We worked hard and we saw some amazing results," said Dr. Ben Gillespie. "And to this day, I've never seen a recovery like this."

Today, Connor's back to doing what he loves -- swimming and coaching. This future teacher learned a tough lesson about drinking-related decision making, one now being shared with others. 

"What I told friends immediately was you don't let anybody leave the pack when you're out in the evenings and you never walk away from a pack, nobody goes alone," said Nancy Keith. 

"Just being very thankful that I'm still present and here," said Connor.

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