By Paul Burton

RUTLAND (CBS) – Thomas Reardon of Rutland is thankful to be alive after a horrific car accident on Christmas Eve with his brother and father.

“I was screaming in pain ‘help, help’ and paramedics dragged me out of the car,” Thomas said.

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The family was on their way to visit relatives when dad lost control because of severe solar glare and hit a tree. Even though everyone was wearing a seatbelt Thomas had several internal injuries; the worst being a tear in the largest vessel in his heart.

Thomas was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester where he underwent a very complex surgery.

Fortunately the doctor on call that night, Dr. Andres Schanzer, is one of only a few in the country who can perform this procedure.

Dr. Andres Schanzer of UMass Memorial Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

Dr. Andres Schanzer of UMass Memorial Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

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“The artery that was torn is life threatening and involves all blood flow out of the heart so we put a stint graft to repair the vessel,” said Dr. Andres Schanzer, Chief Vascular Surgeon at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

The surgery saved Thomas’s life.

“I was told it was a miracle that the doctor had the thing I needed for my heart at that time,” Thomas said.

Though the family spent Christmas Day in the hospital they are so thankful to the team and for the precious gift of life.

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“I’m just thankful they were all there,” Thomas said.

Paul Burton