Beloved dentist on Long Island returns to work after becoming paralyzed in Dominican Republic

MANHASSET, Long Island (WABC) -- A beloved children's dentist on Long Island is back at work just five months after he was paralyzed on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Joseph Brofsky and his friends were on vacation March 1 when he was struck by an eight-foot wave while standing in about three feet of water.

"I wasn't surfing or doing anything crazy, I was looking the wrong way," Brofsky said Thursday.

The 62-year-old hit the ground and snapped his neck. He completely lost the use of his arms and legs and was floating stomach down, holding his breath.

At that moment, he thought he was going to die. His good friend pulled him out of the water and Brofsky said he remembers "having a conversation with God" about how this wasn't his time because he was waiting for the birth of his first grandchild.

After spending time in the hospital in Santo Domingo, he was flown by Medivac to North Shore University Hospital where he underwent a two and a half hour spinal surgery.

Doctors weren't sure if he would ever walk again, but Brofsky defeated the odds started walking again five weeks later. And after that -- he even returned to work in June.

Although he isn't back to practicing dentistry, Brofsky is now grateful to be teaching dentistry at Cohen Children's Medical Center.

"It was a great recovery especially from being not able to walk or feed myself to being back here teaching," Brofsky said. "The best part of the story is I get to hold my grandson who was born, and when I saw the baby, I did cry like a baby."

Although he still can't hold a drill, Brofsky says intensive physical therapy has helped lift his now nine-pound grandson, Isaac.

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