Amazing Recovery By Woman Who Nearly Lost Her Arms In Dog Attack

Posted at 6:18 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 19:18:04-04

A mid-state woman can now move her hands after almost losing both arms in a pit bull attack.

The attack ranks among the worst injuries local surgeons have ever seen, and made headlines in Middle Tennessee.

Rose Hoak said she's finally able to live a normal life thanks to her strong will and the wonders of modern medicine.

It's been a decade since she was mauled in her Antioch home by the family's dog.

"He jumped on me and I fell backwards," said Rose.

She instinctively lifted her hands to protect her face, but that's when the 95-pound pit bull tore into her arms - through the skin and even the bone. With all the blood loss, Rose felt herself fading.

"That's when I said okay, this must feel what it is like to die," said Rose.

Yet, by what she described as devine intervention, the dog suddenly just let her go.

In shock, she staggered to her feet with what was left of her forearms.

"I gathered them up like this and just pulled them up trying to stop the bleeding," said Rose.

Paramedics rusher her to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

"This was about as bad as it gets short of an amputation," said Dr. Douglas Weikert, who was among the team of surgeons at Vanderbilt who operated on Rose some 22 times.

"Clearly she had injuries to skin, bone, tendon and arteries," said Dr. Weikert. 

Her limbs were reattached in microsurgery. Yet, Dr. Weikert, who examined Rose for the first time in years, said there were no guarantees the nerves would ever grow back, but they did.

Hoak's recovery a decade after the attack is nothing short of miraculous. Doctors stitched her arms back together, but her spirit made it all work.

"She's a remarkable lady in a lot of ways," said Dr. Weikert.

Surprisingly, even after what happened, Hoak still loves dogs.

"I just can't see a life without them, said Hoak.

In fact, her Sheltie is a key part of the recovery by helping to keeping her active playing fetch.

Ten years ago, as she was wheeled into surgery with the devastating injuries, she couldn't imagine her hands being saved, much less ever playing Frisbee again.

"You sit there scared and laying there and all you can see is the ceiling and think my life is over.  But I'm here to tell you that you can have a life after trauma," said Hoak. 

She is making the most of it. She wants to help others in similar situations and has shared her story with other trauma victims, often meeting with them, showing them her arms, and letting them know there is always hope.