John Mellencamp Opens Up About Finding the Man Responsible for Saving His Life


Above is proof that the challenges we face in life can make us stronger.

John Mellencamp had no idea he was born with spina bifida until he discovered a scar on the back of his neck around the age of 9 or 10, according to CBS News. As it turned out, the legendary performer from Seymour, Indiana, was given an experimental operation as an infant that saved his life at a time when most babies born with the birth defect didn’t survive.

The 18-hour-long procedure that took place in 1951 was one of three operations on babies with spina bifida at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Mellencamp is the only survivor of the three.

The unlikely success of his operation left Mellencamp with a feeling of luck that’s followed him his whole life, according to his interview in Men’s Journal. He told the magazine:

My grandmother told me for my entire life — everyday, “John, you’re the luckiest boy in the world.” And when you hear that everyday from somebody you actually start to believe it, which made me adventurous, which made me not afraid to try things, which made me not care about stopping myself from doing things that people said you shouldn’t be doing.

Just last month, Mellencamp met the neurosurgeon who performed the pioneering operation on him nearly 63 years ago, according to CBS News. Dr. Robert Heimburger, 97, met him at the hospital where the surgery took place.

Mellencamp recently announced an upcoming tour for his new album “Plain Spoken,” according to his website.  The 80-show tour, beginning in January 2015, will culminate in a performance at Indianapolis’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse on August 4th. A portion of the proceeds from this show will be donated to the Riley Children’s Foundation, which supports the Hospital for Children where the singer’s surgery took place over six decades ago.

Check out Mellencamp’s interview with CBS above. 

Smile more. Like us on Facebook.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Spina Bifida

Kids With Spina Bifida Shut Down Hurtful Statements With the Ultimate Dance Party

“Spina bifida limits our potential.” “We have poor quality of life.” “We suffer daily.” A group of parents and their kids from the “Take That Spina Bifida!” Facebook community are out to prove these statements wrong in the awesome video below, where they all “Shake It Off” to Taylor Swift’s new single. In their ultimate dance [...]

Maybe I Caused My Son's Birth Defect, Maybe I Didn’t. Here’s Why It Doesn't Matter.

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, meaning that everyone and their mom is up in arms about prevention. If you follow any spina bifida-affiliated organizations, then you’re totally going to get an earful this month about folic acid and how SB is totes preventable if you just take folic acid for the love of Christ. (Sara [...]

When My Daughter Starts to Notice She's Different, This Is What We'll Do

We’re sitting on the couch. Claire reaches up her dimpled hand and touches the knot just behind her right ear, mostly hidden in her loopy white blond curls. “I have an ouchy.” “Oh baby,” I say, “that’s not an ouchy, that’s your shunt! You have that because you have Spina Bifida. Your shunt helps your head feel [...]

When a Little Girl Felt Sorry for My Son

She was maybe 6 years old, smiling and ladylike in a gauzy white dress. The kind of dress that makes me want a daughter. The kind of smile that’s heavy on sugar and light on spice. She walked up to my son as he wheeled in circles outside the sanctuary after church and planted herself [...]