From rising back to life after decades spent comatose to responding mere hours before the plug is pulled, humans have proven that disturbing things can happen when you’re not… quite… dead. Psyched for the DVD release of the A&E mini-series COMA on October 30, we examine the most spine-chilling coma cases.
1. Trapped in His Own Body
Rom Houben of Belgium was the victim of a rare coma misdiagnosis. Houben was completely paralyzed and unable to communicate after a horrific accident in his 20s, and it took 23 years for doctors to realize he was actually conscious. After years of torture, Rom can now communicate through a keyboard.
2. Cancer Through a Coma
Polish railworker Jan Grzebski fell into a comatose state after a railway accident. Along with brain trauma, tests revealed that Grzebski was suffering from brain cancer and was expected to live no longer than three years. Nearly two decades later, Grzebski awoke to a completely alien world of democracy and cell phones.
3. Eerily Aware
After being hit by a drunk driver in 1984, Sarah Scantlin still had fully functional senses, making her able to see and hear everything throughout her 20-year coma. When Scantlin finally awoke, she could clearly recall specific events that took place while she was comatose, such as 9/11.
4. Child Labor During Coma
Emma Mynors was rushed to the hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia 29 weeks into pregnancy. The 23-year-old Brit fell into a coma after undergoing two pneumonia-induced strokes and woke a month later to learn she had given birth. Mynors had no recollection of her pregnancy and was in shock when nurses told her she was now the mother of a healthy baby girl.
5. Just in Time
College student Sam Schmid’s brain injuries, incurred after a car accident, were so severe that doctors were ready to take him off life support so that his organs could be donated. Just hours before the 21-year-old was unplugged, he started responding with simple hand movements. Doctors now expect Schmid to make a full recovery.
6. Cyclical Consciousness
After suffering a heart attack and stroke in 2000, Christine Lilly has been in what doctors refer to as a “mysterious vegetative state” for years. She once struck up a conversation with her mother as if nothing had happened, swearing it was 1986. Lilly’s usual lack of communication and rigid paralysis dissolved and she reverted into a past self for 12 days before relapsing. This “cyclical consciousness” has occurred four times since.
7. Sleeping Beauty
Complications from a Caesarean section sent 34-year-old Brit Emma Ray into cardiac arrest and a coma. After spending two weeks at her bedside, grieving husband Andrew leaned in for a kiss. Emma immediately awoke, pursing her lips to return the favor. Making a recovery with extensive brain rehabilitation has allowed Emma to return home to her family.