This story was written by Rom Houben of the Online Mail. One might hope that it will give pause to those who so frequently are calling for those in a persistent vegetative state to be euthanized.
A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time.
Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound.
'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state.
'I dreamed myself away,' he added, tapping his tale out with the aid of a computer.
Doctors used a range of coma tests before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was 'extinct'.
But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.
Mr Houben described the moment as 'my second birth'. Therapy has since allowed him to tap out messages on a computer screen.
Mr Houben said: 'All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt.'
His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who 'saved' him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.
'Medical advances caught up with him,' said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.
The disclosure will also renew the right-to-die debate over whether people in comas are truly unconscious.
Mr Houben, a former martial arts enthusiast, was paralysed in 1983.
Doctors in Zolder, Belgium, used the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor responses. But each time he was graded incorrectly.
Only a re-evaluation of his case at the University of Liege discovered that he had lost control of his body but was still fully aware of what was happening.
He is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down.
Mr Houben said: 'I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me - it was my second birth.
'I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead.'
Dr Laureys's new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed.
'Anyone who bears the stamp of "unconscious" just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,' he said.
The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben's brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging.
He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world.
Dr Laureys said: 'In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury.
'About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health.
'But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage - they go on living without ever coming back again.'
Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people who have lain in persistent vegetative states for years should be given the opportunity to have crucial medical support withdrawn because of the 'indignity' of their condition.
But there have been several cases in which people judged to be in vegetative states or deep comas have recovered.
Twenty years ago, Carrie Coons, an 86-year-old from New York, regained consciousness after a year, took small amounts of food by mouth and engaged in conversation.
Only days before her recovery, a judge had granted her family's request for the removal of the feeding tube which had been keeping her alive.
In the UK in 1993, doctors switched off the life support system keeping alive Tony Bland, a 22-year- old who had been in a coma for three years following the Hillsborough disaster.
Dr Laureys was not available for comment yesterday and it is not clear why he thought Mr Houben should have the hi-tech screening when so many years had passed.
- American Papist Blog
- American Spectator
- Archbishop Tim Dolan's (NY) Blog
- Big Blue Wave
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC News Site)
- Catholic Dialogue Blog
- Catholic Education Resource Center
- Catholic Exchange
- Catholic Heritage Website (Ireland)
- Catholic Insight
- Catholic News Agency
- Catholic Online
- Catholic Sensibility
- Catholic, and Loving It
- CTV News Site
- Ethics and Public Policy Center
- First Things
- Fr. Raymond De Souza - National Post Columnist
- Fr. Raymond deSouza personal blog
- Freethroughthought blog (excellent site)
- Friar Rick's Webblog
- Get Religion.org
- Global TV News Site
- Holy Post - National Post Religious Blog
- Inside Catholic Blog
- New Advent
- Pave the Way Foundation
- Priests for Life Canada Website
- ProLife Blog
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke
- Rosary for the Bishops
- Salt & Light TV - Canadian Catholic Television Website
- Sandro Magister
- Sane Conservatism
- SoCon (social conservative)
- Sylvia's Website: Canadian Clergy Sex Abuse Cases
- The Catholic Register
- The Hermeneutic of Continuity
- The National Post: Canada's National Daily
- The New Jesuit Review
- The New York Times Website
- Vox Nova
- What Does Prayer Really Say - Priest bolg
- Whispers in the Loggia
- ► 2014 (2325)
- ► 2013 (1381)
- ► 2012 (1527)
- ► 2011 (1437)
- ► 2010 (997)
- Manhattan Declaration is "dangerous"?
- George Weigel defends the conclusions of Natural L...
- And for something lighter...
- Join the conversation!!
- Gender Mainstreaming at Save a Family Plan
- An interesting exchange between a theist and an at...
- Chris Matthews vs Bishop Tobin
- Interesting article from ZENIT
- Man trapped in 23-year 'coma' reveals horror of be...
- A story taken from LifeSiteNews that should chill ...
- Something for every cell phone user to watch
- Matt Gurney (National Post) argues for the legaliz...
- Catholic Answers
- Interesting position of modernism and its implicat...
- Respect for Each Other in a Polarized Community - ...
- Trying to understand
- Working in "virtual" fields to produce a harvest o...
- Again the battle rages on the web pages of the CBC...
- Just a little humor that tickles a priests' funny ...
- A site from University of Edinburgh which attempts...
- Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Why Not?
- Link to the Manhattan Declaration
- Learning when and how to pick a fight.
- If You Look for the Bad In People, You're sure to ...
- Manhattan Declaration of Consciences
- Archbishop Chaput (Denver) on the cost of disciple...
- Catholic Church needs more Internet savvy: bishop
- I couldn't say it better myself
- Chuck Colson posts an article about religious free...
- Article from Atlantic Catholic writer, Francis Cam...
- Nova: Becoming Human
- Excellent dialogue on St. Joseph's Health Care Cen...
- Big Ecumenical Announcement on Friday!!
- From Blue Wave blog
- Archbishop Duncan of the Anglican Church of North ...
- Zenit reports on the need to increasing the Cathol...
- A voice from Toronto on Bill C-384
- Bishop Fred Henry (Calgary) calls for the defeat o...
- A Small Town Paper poses Challenge to Catholic Fai...
- Catholic Video Blog
- Looking for bigger role on Web, bishops meet Googl...
- When Bishops take to the public square to make the...
- Abortion kills more than baby: Chinese study says...
- Church Examines Its Use of Internet What's To Be L...
- W5 program this Saturday/Sunday (November 14/15, 2...
- God & Dog
- Why did Bishops cover up the sex abuse scandals
- American study on sex abuse by clergy
- The value of a private retreat for women (and men ...
- Families : mediating structure between individual ...
- University of Toronto Pro-Life students make the a...
- A long and safe trip
- Another graced gift of the Pro-Life "40 Days for L...
- Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Catholic League
- Have you heard the voice of God today?
- An example of what I speak
- Human Rights Tribunals: An attack upon Christians...
- National Post: Are there two "Catholic Churches"?
- But what do we mean when we say "marriage"?
- Is the Church a force for good? Fr. Richard John N...
- Lessons from Fort Hood
- Insightful article of the nature of theology
- The effects linger for years, and years....
- Whispers in the Loggia
- New York Times analysizes the Maine Vote overturni...
- Another Evangelical Catholic is heard from
- The power of music
- Massey Lecture Series
- A challenge, with deep nod of respect to graduates...
- Not a great day (sigh) for Catholic values and the...
- Another front opens on the culture war between fai...
- The media drum beat for legalized euthanasia conti...
- The impact of the blogoshere on the main stream me...
- The fruits of the 40 Day Witness for Life pays off...
- clay vessels: Drinking a Beer with Jesus
- Dorothy Day: Contribution to Catholic/Christian re...
- A conversation with Wayne on the ways of God
- An Invitation to a conversation
- ▼ November (78)