Coma Cases

Written by Shirley Parker
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Short of the abduction of a child, a loved one in a coma is one of the most devastating situations that friends and family will ever confront. When someone is killed outright, the shock is intense, but the decisions to be made are relatively few and only have to be made once. When trauma, a failed suicide attempt, or complications from an illness put someone into profound unconsciousness (coma), neither medical specialists nor the family know for sure what will happen next.

At times, a physician may make a professional decision to induce a deliberate coma, when it will protect the recovery of a critically ill patient. An example of the need for induced coma is following extraordinarily delicate head surgery. At such times, the outcome may be somewhat more predictable, or it may still involve hour-by-hour watchful waiting. Coma may also be induced if a seriously injured patient is fighting the respirator or other medical equipment.

Although it is very rare for such recovery to take place, people have made remarkable recoveries from years-long comas. The case of Terry Wallis of Stone County, Arkansas has been reported in the news. He was in a coma for 19 years after a car accident that killed his friend, and at the time, his daughter was only six weeks old. His family visited frequently during that entire time period at the rehabilitation center, and took him on car trips for weekends and other special occasions. That stimulation may well have been what kept his mind functioning.

Coma Cases Not Making The Headlines

Most families with comatose relatives suffer and hope privately. They neither seek nor want the interference of the media or the courts. Bringing in state legislatures or Congress would be anathema to them. They quietly continue to care for comatose loved ones at home, unless they have the resources for an extended medical facility. Or they just as quietly make the anguished decision to release the patient on to the next stage of his eternal journey.


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