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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. 

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Image via Wikimedia Commons/Andrea Sartorati

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