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March 8, 2007

Woman Awakes From 'Vegetative State' After 6 Years (Updated)

Topics: The Truth About PVS

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Her doctors call Christa Lilly's recovery a miracle, and was heard on Fox News to say that he is now looking at the so-called vegetative state in an entirely different light - and that it's time to rethink the matter of euthanizing patients, as has become more prevalent in recent years.
The Southern Colorado mom had slipped into a vegetative state and remained that way for more than six years after suffering a heart attack and then a stroke. Now, because no one decided to starve her to death like was done by Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, and a judge in Florida by the name of George Greer. In the case of Christ Lilly's, her family wanted her to live and apparently her doctor supported their decision:
... It was November of 2000, when Lilly slipped into a vegetative state, which is essentially like a coma, but with the eyes open. Lilly was unconscious and unaware of her surroundings. Now, for the first time in six and a half years, she's awake, alert, and talking. "I think it's wonderful. It makes me so happy," Lilly tells us.

The last time Lilly was aware of the world around her, Bill Clinton was in office and the September 11th attacks hadn't even happened. Lilly was also surprised to find out her youngest daughter is now 12. "It's kinda exciting," Chelcy says. She's Christa's daughter. And she's also a grandmother of three, that's new too. "Seeing her talking," Latiana says, is the greatest gift of all. She's 6-years-old and the oldest of the grandchildren.

"To come back out of it... God is good," Minnie Smith, Lilly's mother, says. She has been taking care of her all these years. She says this past Sunday, her prayers were answered. "Every morning, I always check on her when I wake up, before I go to the bathroom. I always say, 'Hi baby, how are you doing?' She said, 'I'm fine' and that's when I knew she was awake." A two-word answer that changed everything.

Lilly says her biggest frustration is learning how to talk again. "I've been eating cake." Eating is no problem for this woman, who had been kept alive by a feeding tube.

"This is a miracle," Lilly's neurologist, Dr. Randall Bjork, tells us. He checked to see her how her brain is functioning. He says he's as surprised as everyone else. "This is all mystical and I can't explain it."

Standards for diagnosis of persistent vegetative state (PVS) have not been widely accepted by the medical community. Yet this designation is used in practice to motivate the withdrawal of care and death of patients through-out the world. Terri Schiavo was one such individual who lost her life while Haleigh Poutre cheated death despite being declared "virtually brain dead" and in a "hopeless" state of "persistent vegetation" by her doctors.There have been many others.

Related:
Source
PVS is reversible and often misdiagnosed
Haleigh Poutre, PVS and the Failed System
Misdiagnosis of the vegetative state: retrospective study in a rehabilitation unit

Update: Christa has unexpectedly slid back into a coma. She has apparently woken up four other times for briefer periods since suffering a heart attack and stroke in November of 2000, only to slip back into a coma. What Christa's case demonstrates for us is that we know very little about the potential outcome of what some physicians refer to as a "persistant vegetative state," except that it is anything but permanent and that there is always hope. As her mother her mother and caregiver Minnie Smith says: "The good Lord let me know she's alright, he brings her back to visit every so often and I'm thankful for that."

Source: Hyscience

Posted by tim at March 8, 2007 5:59 PM


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