Local News

Soldier returns to Duke hospital to thank doctors who saved his life

Posted September 19, 2014 10:39 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2014 11:00 p.m. EDT

— Army Sgt. Cory Muzzy returned to Duke University Hospital on Friday to say what he couldn’t when he was first wheeled into the hospital seven months ago.

“I just want to thank everyone and to know that I’m very appreciative about everything and everyone that has helped me in this process,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Duke Hospital, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

Muzzy and several other soldiers were severely injured in a live fire artillery training exercise at Fort Bragg in February. Cannon crew member Pfc. James Groth, 22, of Ethel, Wash., was killed in the accident.

Muzzy, 25, lost sight in both eyes and had to have his legs amputated. He spent six weeks in Duke’s critical care unit and endured 15 surgeries in his first two weeks there.

He is currently being treated at a rehab facility in Texas and uses a wheelchair but can walk with forearm crutches. More surgery should improve his vision, but for now, he’s just grateful to be alive.

“I literally got messed up from head to toe,” he said.

A Duke medical trauma team, led by Dr. Mark Shapiro, didn't give up trying to save him. Shapiro says Muzzy’s determination to live was an inspiration to him and his team.

“This is the joy. This is the gratitude,” the doctor said Friday. “It was just one step in a long process that he fought and gave us a chance to fight with him.”

Muzzy's fighting spirit also got some help from a therapy dog, Kylie, that often climbed into bed with him.

“It always lifts my spirits when animals are around,” he said.

Muzzy's goal is to run a 5K race next February on the anniversary of the accident. His old unit at Fort Bragg wants to make it an annual event. He plans to return to Duke as a volunteer to help other critically injured patients.