Doctors took former Creighton announcer off life-support, and a day later, he woke up
In his career as Creighton’s play-by-play announcer, T. Scott Marr has likely called a comeback or two on the basketball court.
Now the Omaha man has a comeback story of his own.
Last month, Marr was nearly brain-dead. His family made one more trip to the hospital before making funeral arrangements. Marr had woken up.
Marr, who spent about 16 years calling Creighton men’s basketball games, has since been dubbed a “miracle man” by family.
After weeks of therapy, he left the hospital Thursday.
On Dec. 12 — a day after Marr’s 61st birthday — his son found him lying in bed, unresponsive but breathing. An ambulance took Marr to Methodist Hospital.
At the emergency room, the family was met by a chaplain, said daughter Preston Marr. It left her with a “sinking feeling.”
Doctors said scans appeared to show signs of a severe stroke. Marr had significant brain swelling.
By the time Marr was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit, he was on a breathing machine and was in worse shape.
“There was nothing we could fix or do surgically that night,” said Dr. John Treves, a neurosurgeon who treated Marr initially.
When Marr’s four children came back the next day, they learned that he wasn’t a candidate for organ donation because he still had brain activity.
But because he had shown no neurological improvement, they did not expect him to recover. That night, they decided to have the breathing tubes removed.
“None of us wanted him lying in that hospital bed any longer than he had to,” Preston Marr said.
She and siblings Ryan, Drew and Lauren sat around their father’s hospital bed. They held his hands, said their goodbyes and cried.
The next morning, the Marr family wasn’t quite ready to make funeral arrangements.
They skipped their appointment and went to the hospital instead. On their way, Preston took a call from her aunt, who said Marr seemed to be responding.
It was probably just a reflex, thought Preston, who’s a nurse.
“Hi, Dad,” she said as she walked into the room. Eyes still closed, her dad cracked a smile.
“I literally thought I was dreaming,” Preston said. “It was the craziest moment ever.”
She asked her dad to squeeze her hands. He couldn’t. She asked him to move his thumbs. Slowly, he did. She asked him to wiggle his toes. Each toe wiggled.
After he regained consciousness, Marr started to improve and was diagnosed with posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, or PRES.
The severe swelling Marr experienced is not typically a symptom of the syndrome, which is why doctors initially suspected a stroke. Rather, said Dr. Rebecca Runge of Methodist, people are conscious and might experience vision changes, headache or high blood pressure.
”It’s not always a straightforward diagnosis,” she said.
Runge said the Omaha hospital sees a handful of PRES cases each year.
All Marr remembers is waking up surrounded by his family. At one point during his hospital stay, he recalled seeing his father, who had died two years earlier.
Now he credits his survival to faith.
“I’m not an extremely religious person. I don’t go to church every Sunday,” Marr said. “But I do believe in God. I believe with all my heart. And now this is just proof for me that everything I’ve ever heard is true. That he loves me. That he’s right there for me. ... It was pretty much a miracle.”
At the hospital, Marr underwent physical, occupational and speech therapy. During a therapy session Thursday, Marr worked on his kitchen skills and whipped up a fried egg. He sported a Bluejays hat with “miracle man” embroidered on the back.
Many of Marr’s Creighton friends made visits during his hospital stay. They shared stories with his family and chatted with Marr.
“T. Scott did an incredible job covering the Creighton basketball program during his 16 years doing play-by-play,” head coach Greg McDermott said in a statement. “Everyone within our program couldn’t be more pleased to hear he’s been released from the hospital as he continues to make his incredible recovery.”
He’ll continue speech therapy on an outpatient basis to work on improving short-term memory and multitasking. Marr plans to “savor every moment” out of the hospital, which includes eating a home-cooked meal, sitting in his living room and riding in his new truck.
Marr said he’s proud of his children, who were by his side during the journey and handled it with strength.
“(My kids) were a rock,” Marr said. “They were everything, and I’m so proud of them.”