UW–Madison physical education student makes ‘miraculous’ recovery from fall

A story on the UW Health website shares the remarkable recovery of UW–Madison School of Education student Connor Keith from a devastating fall in Jan. 2022.

Connor Keith
Connor Keith

It began with a night out with friends. While walking home to his apartment, Keith fell about 12 feet from a wall behind a building on campus, landing on his head. Fortunately he was discovered by three UW–Madison employees while laying unconscious on the ground, and transported to University Hospital.

An emergency medicine team at University Hospital induced a coma and later removed two large pieces of Keith’s skull to relieve pressure on his brain. “He had a less than 10 percent chance of survival or even coming out the coma — and even less than that of having no physical or mental impairment,” said Mustafa Baskaya, a neurosurgeon at UW Health and professor of surgery in the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

Despite these long odds, Keith did wake up and is making a full recovery. While he was forced to discontinue his education mid-semester in spring 2022 to focus on his rehabilitation, he has returned to school this fall to continue his studies to be a physical education teacher. His passion is to educate children as a swim coach.

“He is absolutely one of the very few miracles I’ve seen in my career,” said Neil Brauner, a family friend and registered nurse anesthetist at UW Health, who happened to be working the night of Keith’s fall and assisted in his initial surgery.

Keith said he feels it is important to share his story, both as a cautionary tale, and to thank the many people who cared for him and made his recovery possible.

“I would not be here if it wasn’t for the amazing people who helped me, like the UW–Madison employees who called the first responders, and the police and paramedics who arrived at the scene, to the people in the hospitals who cared for me, kept me alive, and helped me thrive once I was awake again,” Keith said. “I could never thank them enough.”

Read more of Keith’s story at uwhealth.org.

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