Read this amazing story courtesy of www.guardian.co.uk
Doctors presumed he was in a vegetative state following a near-fatal car crash in 1983. They believed he could feel nothing and hear nothing. For 23 years.
Then a neurologist, Steven Laureys, who decided to take a radical look at the state of diagnosed coma patients, released him from his torture. Using a state-of-the-art scanning system, Laureys found to his amazement that his brain was functioning almost normally.
"I had dreamed myself away," said Houben, now 46, whose real "state" was discovered three years ago, according to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel this week.
Laureys, a neurologist at the University of Liege in Belgium, published a study in BMC Neurology earlier this year saying Houben could be one of many cases of falsely diagnosed comas around the world. He discovered that although Houben was completely paralysed, he was also completely conscious — it was just that he was unable to communicate the fact.
Houben now communicates with one finger and a special touchscreen on his wheelchair – he has developed some movement with the help of intense physiotherapy over the last three years.
He realised when he came round after his accident, which had caused his heart to stop and his brain to be starved of oxygen for several minutes, that his body was paralysed. Although he could hear every word his doctors spoke, he could not communicate with them.
"I screamed, but there was nothing to hear," he said, via his keyboard.
The Belgian former engineering student, who speaks four languages, said he coped with being effectively trapped in his own body by meditating. He told doctors he had "travelled with my thoughts into the past, or into another existence altogether". Sometimes, he said, "I was only my consciousness and nothing else".
The moment it was discovered he was not in a vegetative state, said Houben, was like being born again. "I'll never forget the day that they discovered me," he said. "It was my second birth".
Experts say Laureys' findings are likely to reopen the debate over when the decision should be made to terminate the lives of those in comas who appear to be unconscious but may have almost fully-functioning brains. [Imagine the screams of the others who were subjected to euthanasia!]
Belgian doctors used an internationally-accepted scale to monitor Houben's state over the years. Known as the Glasgow Coma Scale, it requires assessment of the eyes, verbal and motor responses. But they failed to assess him correctly and missed signs that his brain was still functioning.
Last night his mother, Fina, said in an interview with Belgian RTBF that they had taken him to the US five times for reexamination. The breakthrough came when it became clear that Houben could indicate yes and no with his foot.
"Powerlessness. Utter powerlessness. At first I was angry, then I learned to live with it," he tapped out on to the screen during an interview with the Belgian network last night, AP reported.
Laureys, who is head of the Coma Science Group and department of neurology at Liege University hospital, has advised on several prominent coma cases, such as the American Terri Schiavo, whose life support was withdrawn in 2005 after 15 years in a coma. [Was Terri hearing all of the debate around her?]
Laureys concluded that coma patients are misdiagnosed "on a disturbingly regular basis". He examined 44 patients believed to be in a vegetative state, and found that 18 of them responded to communication.
"Once someone is labelled as being without consciousness, it is very hard to get rid of that," he told Der Spiegel.
He said patients suspected of being in a non-reversible coma should be "tested 10 times" and that comas, like sleep, have different stages and need to be monitored.
Houben hopes to write a book detailing his trauma and his "rebirth".
Makes you wonder why some would love to hasten the death of their loved ones who are in a vegetative state. This is personal to me since my father lie in a vegetative state for 13 months after suffering a stroke. Almost everybody was begging us to pull the plug on our father but we said no and hoped for a miracle.
Our resources were almost drained because of the medical bills and true friends and family stepped up during those times when it matters the most. Guess gold really is tested by fire.
My father died after Mass was celebrated on his bedside, after getting anointed.
Imagine if we gave in to their advice. Imagine what we could have felt if ever there is the chance that my dad could hear us and hear his friends and siblings talk about putting him to rest?
We are glad we didn't. For up to this day, whenever we see his photo, remember him on his birth and death anniversary, visit his grave, we are happy and proud that we did everything to have him back. We did everything out of love. Not out of concern that we'll go bankrupt. But that we love him no matter what. We shared with our mom their marriage vows: In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer... Despair and Death were never options. Only Hope and Life were!
We are glad that we found hope in the Lord and trusted in His Will.
It was always His Will and who are we to ever doubt His decision for us, of what is good and bad for us?
Unfortunately, or should I say tragically, some people think they know more than God. Playing God, like abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, cloning, etc.
Ahh the prize of Modernism. A world devoid of God and the exaltation of Man, what he wants, what he thinks is all that is important. Have you ever heard someone tell you "It is what you think that makes you happy that is important and let no one tell you otherwise or stop you from reaching that dream."
Remember what the devil told Eve in the Garden?
But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."