A former beauty queen has undergone an incredible surgery where a quarter of her skull was removed and stored in her stomach while she recovered from a devastating head injury.
Surgeons removed the rear quarter of Jamie Hilton’s skull and placed in her abdomen so that the bone would remain sterile and nourished as her brain swelling subsided.
When the mother-of-three and former Mrs. Idaho woke up from the operation she found the large, hard lump in her stomach and a portion of her head missing.
The 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 the 36-year-old has returned home.
Accident: Jamie 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 protect the brain
Writing on a blog post about her near death experience, Jamie, who won Mrs. Idaho in 2009 and competed in the Mrs. America beauty contests, said: ‘NOTHING in this world really matters to me today other than I AM HERE. I am on this GLORIOUS earth with my unbelievable family.
‘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!’
Jamie’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 Jamie 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.
When Nick lifted her, she began breathing again and nearby Forest Ranger called for emergency services. Jamie was airlifted to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise where doctors found her brain had swollen.
With her family warned that the next 72 hours would decide if she lived or died, 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 placed back on her head.
As she 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 Jamie, from Boise, Idaho, spoke about the moment her skull was replaced.
Support: Jamie, who was Mrs Idaho in 2009, has three children with her husband Nick, pictured
‘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.