Trapped in a Coma for 23 Years, But Conscious the Whole Time

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: coma, misdiagnosis, health news

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(NaturalNews) Rom Houben, a 46-year-old car crash victim, has recently come forward with his horrific experience of coma misdiagnosis. Doctors believed that Rom was in a coma when in fact he was conscious but unable to speak or move. For 23 years, he tried continually to alert his doctors about the fact that he was actually awake but was unable to ever make a sound.

Many coma tests were performed on Rom prior to doctors deciding that he was unconscious, yet somehow they inaccurately assessed his brain function and declared him brain-dead when he was fully conscious.

Dr. Steven Laureys, the neurological expert who saved Rom, revealed the story in a scientific paper that was published recently. Thanks to advances in technology since Rom was first diagnosed as being in a perpetual vegetative state, Rom was able to eventually type information into a computer that revealed his state of consciousness.

Dr. Laureys believes there are probably many people around the world who have been diagnosed as being in a coma when they may actually be conscious. This breakthrough story, as disturbing as it is, will have serious implications in the right-to-die debate. Since many people may have been and are currently being misdiagnosed in the same way that Rom was, there is a high possibility that people will needlessly die because they are thought to be permanently unconscious.

A similar story took place in Belgium where a paralyzed man was declared to be in a coma using the Glasgow Coma Scale. Every test conducted on him proved to be false when a secondary analysis at the University of Liege showed that he was fully awake. Though he remains in a hospital, he is able to use his computer to read books, talk to friends, and interact with the world.

Dr. Laureys study also questions the way in which doctors declare someone to be unconscious. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people a year who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are declared to be in a coma. Once placed in this category, few are ever evaluated or tested again to verify the initial results. Rarely are people who have been declared to be in an unconscious state given any further treatment to try to improve their condition; they are primarily just given life support.

The comatose who have seen miraculous improvements, including 86-year-old Carrie Coons from New York, are perfect examples of why euthanasia and assisted suicide proponents need to reconsider their position. Just days after a judge had ruled that her family could take her off life-support, Coons regained consciousness, started eating and began conversing.

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