BARNSTABLE, Mass. — The fact that Jon Custodio is running, let alone training for the Boston Marathon, is nothing short of remarkable.
“I don’t know why I beat the odds. I don’t even know what the odds were. I know I was really sick,” he said.
In March of 2020, just as the pandemic started – out of nowhere, the then completely healthy 32-year-old software engineer from Barnstable suffered a ruptured spinal aneurysm. A blood clot surrounding his spinal cord burst.
“That’s incredibly rare. That’s rarer than getting hit by lightning,” said Dr. Hasan Zaidi, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
So rare in fact, Jon says doctors on the Cape at first couldn’t figure out what was wrong. But as soon he started to lose all sensation in his legs, he was rushed by helicopter to Boston.
“So when I presented to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, I was completely paralyzed from the center of my chest down,” he said.
After undergoing emergency spinal surgery, doctors told Jon they weren’t sure if he’d ever walk again.
But after a month at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown and a year of therapy he beat the long odds.
“I don’t say this too often, but it really was a miraculous recovery what he was able to do. It doesn’t happen very often and I’m so happy to see someone who is so deserving,” Dr. Zaidi said.
One of Jon’s nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Lisa D’Amore, added, “Miracle is definitely an understatement. It was difficult to know what to expect. It was evident he was a little worried, but he never exemplified self-pity.”
Jon says he’s not a big fan of running but is a big fan of his doctors and nurses and that’s why he’s training hard for his first-ever marathon. It’s a way to pay tribute to his medical team who helped him get back on his feet.
“I think so many times they treat a patient and the patient goes on with their lives. Maybe they never find out what happened. I want them to know because of what they did, because of their dedication, I’m going to run a marathon. I’m choosing to do a very public event so they can see it. It’s my thank you to all the doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and everyone at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital,” Jon said.
Jon is running for the Brigham and Women’s Stepping Strong Marathon Team. Funds raised by the team benefit the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center For Trauma Innovation at the Brigham. The center was founded by the Reny family to honor the Brigham medical team that saved the life and limbs of their daughter, Gillian, who was critically injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
The mission of The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation is to catalyze multidisciplinary collaborations that inspire groundbreaking innovation, effective prevention, and compassionate intervention to transform care for civilians and military heroes who endure traumatic injuries and events.
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