''What saved me was my guardian angel,'' said Joey, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 2009. He was so seriously injured that he did not return to his home until three months later..
His family was told that he had a 1 percent chance of recuperating as fully as he has.
His mother, Suzette Garlando, calls her son a true ''miracle from God.''
Joey was a passenger in the rear seat of a car involved in a two-vehicle accident and had to be cut free from the vehicle by firefighters. At the time, he was a sophomore piano performance and education major at Kent State University.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ghassan F. Khayyat, who performed emergency surgery on him following the accident, said Joey was unconscious and in a coma when he was first examined.
He said: ''The way his examination was and the appearance of the scan indicated that the outlook may be very bleak indeed,''
A blood clot and bruising of the brain were discovered and ''these caused pressure on the brain where it shifted from the left side to the right side,'' the doctor added
The blood clot was removed during surgery, as was a piece of Joey's skull to allow swelling to occur on the outside of the brain and not on the inside, Khayyat said.
Joey also experienced various complications during his recovery including respiratory failure, pneumonia and had to be put in a medically induced coma whilst his body recovered.
After three weeks at the hospital, doctors gave the family good news: His brain, which had shifted slightly as a result of the accident, had shifted back in place and had given him a good chance of recovery.
He then spent several months in a rehabiliation unit and underwent follow-up surgery to replace the bone from his skull, which had been kept frozen.
Joey said that while he can play the piano, he has difficulty reading and some minor vision problems.
He also has problems with long- and short-term memory.
''I lost 20 years of my life,'' he said. ''Basically, I don't remember anything.''
If he sees a photograph, it might spark some memory of who is in the picture, he said. He expects that with time, he will remember more.
''It's still in my head,'' he said. ''I have to make new pathways to get to it.''
Joey says he is sure his guardian angel kept him alive during this difficult recovery period.
''I think he or she was like, 'You aren't dying now. You didn't complete your purpose.' ''
And what is that purpose?
Joey doesn't know exactly what he is meant to do on Earth but believes there is something he still must accomplish.
''Maybe it is to pull a little kid out of a burning car,'' he said.
''Maybe it is something simple like that.''
Everyone, he said, ''has a purpose in life. God has it all planned out.''
Extracted from an original article in the Akron Beacon Journal