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Modern Mysteries

Man wakes up from coma after 12 years

By T.K. Randall
January 15, 2015 · Comment icon 14 comments

Pistorius was unable to move or speak for more than a decade. Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
Having slipped in to a coma at the age of 12, Martin Pistorius didn't wake up again for over a decade.
Pistorius had been living a normal life in South Africa when, in January 1988, he returned home from school complaining that he had been suffering from a sore throat.

As his health deteriorated he was diagnosed with Cryptococci meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain, a condition that would eventually see him lapse in to a vegetative state.

He would stay that way for another 12 years.

His parents selflessly cared for him despite the bleak outlook, always hoping that he might eventually regain consciousness. One day however Pistorius' aromatherapist happened to spot subtle hints that he might be aware of what was going on, barely perceptible smiles gazes and nods that most people would miss but that suggested he was reacting to things happening around him.
A visit to the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria confirmed that he had indeed regained awareness and his condition continued to improve.

Before long he was well enough to learn how to read and write and could communicate using a special synthetic voice computer system that he was able to operate.

Now 39, Pistorius has a job in a health centre and has even gotten married.

His story, written in his own words, is the subject of the best-selling book - The Ghost Boy.

Out of everything he endured however, the thing that stuck in his mind the most about his bedridden days were the endless repeats of one particular well known children's television show.

"I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney," he said.

Source: | Comments (14)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by wondergirl100 9 years ago
I have a friend who says that she has been in acoma few times, but she always heard what people said to her and was able to repeat stuff to her mom. Whether this is true or not, the important thing is that she is a-okay now.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Calibeliever 9 years ago
Cheers to the therapist who was able to recognize that someone was home and get him help. Sorry for the 13 years of Barney though ....
Comment icon #7 Posted by quiXilver 9 years ago
so in essence... his consciousness used his body to time travel twelve years into the future...
Comment icon #8 Posted by Bavarian Raven 9 years ago
Ditto the Barney comment
Comment icon #9 Posted by Junior Chubb 9 years ago
Good for him! BTW - Sponge-Bob is a close second in my book to Barney. My daughter wouldn't let my granddaughters watch Barney at home. Her Aunt would watch the girls during the day. My daughter got off from work early and went to pick them up and guess what they were watching and enjoying. You guessed it! Barney! Don't talk ill of SpongeBob my friend... or things may go south very quickly!!
Comment icon #10 Posted by shrooma 9 years ago
QUOTE- Having slipped in to a coma at the age of 12, Martin Pistorius didn't wake up again for over a decade. . betcha Oscar Pistorius is wishing the same thing right about now..... .
Comment icon #11 Posted by JinxDeMynx 9 years ago
Well well well... The "computer" is now advanced...
Comment icon #12 Posted by sonica 9 years ago
I agree with previous poster for care giver noticing such subtle changes in his facial expressions. Thank God she did or he might've continued in an unresponsive state for much longer. I wonder if it was a new medication or the chemicals in a therapeutic aroma that triggered his awakening. Had he a cold, an antibiotic could've reversed the trauma of illness in his brain, spine, neurological system.
Comment icon #13 Posted by DanteHoratio 9 years ago
I would hate to be in a coma for 12 years. The kid just missed out on his childhood and everything.
Comment icon #14 Posted by camelfy 8 years ago
12 years in coma is a long time. I can't imagine how he felt when he woke up.

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