Arizona Man Comes Out of Coma, Before Being Groomed To Be An Organ Donor


Posted on 23rd December 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Here’s a cheerful Christmas time story about an Arizona youth, in a coma and thought to be brain dead, who woke up shortly before his organs were going to be harvested for donors.

The wonderful story of Sam Schmid, a student at the University of Arizona, to us illustrates the importance of not simply writing off patients in comas, the way some doctors do. And it is an example of  how frequent visits from family and friends seemingly stimulate a person in a coma, and help him or her come out of it.;_ylt=Ak.WPAdt7e1bReYcijw9iJ2s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNqN3IwdHBxBGNjb2RlA2N0LmMEcGtnAzVjNGY3OTYwLWI4NTYtM2FkNC1hYTQzLTU1NzMwOTg4NmU0MgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDbW9zdF9wb3B1bGFyBHZlcgM0MjcyMjM0MC0yY2Q4LTExZTEtYmZlYi0yMjhkZGUzZDBlMGU-;_ylg=X3oDMTJlaTQzcG12BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QDTm9uZXdzcmVhZGVyb25uZXdzaG9tZQ–;_ylv=3

According to the Associated Press, 21-year-old Schmid sustained such severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in an Oct. 19 multi-car accident that he had to be transported to the Barrow Neurological Institute at st. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix. He underwent surgery on an aneurysm.

But Schmid’s prognosis wasn’t considered very good, according to AP. Things were so bad that officials at the hospital  hinted to his family about his organs being donated. Maybe it was hearing about the possibility of his lifeline pulled and his organs removed, but the youth began responding.

Schmid is now walking, using a walker, and doctors are expecting him to recover from his TBI.  His mother, Susan Regan, thinks it’s a miracle, according to AP. And so does his neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Spetzler, who just happened to train the doctor who performed surgery on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot through the head in Tucson, AP reported.

Spetzler held off on pulling life support on Schmid because MRIs didn’t show any that any parts of his brain had any blood clots or if any part of his brain had become dark, a sign that brain tissue had died. Then suddenly, Schmid began to become responsive, AP reported.

Schmid may have been in a medically induced coma, but he wasn’t alone when he was comatose. He was always surrounded by family and friends, who offered him support. And we’d guess that even though he was out of it, he could still “hear” those who wanted him to recover.




Familiar Voices May Lift Patients Out Of Comas


Posted on 17th May 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Karen Schroeder would tell the relatives of coma patients not to give up hope.

That’s because her own son came around after participating in a clinical trial that was researching whether hearing familiar voices can have a positive impact on traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.,CST-NWS-coma16.article

When Schroeder’s son Ryan, 22, suffered brain injury after being thrown from a snowmobile into a tree last year, doctors said they doubted he would survive. The youth, who is from Huntley, Ill., wasn’t aware of his surroundings and couldn’t speak, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

At that point, Schroeder was willing to do anything to help her son, so she enrolled him in the trial. The Schroeder family recorded stories for Ryan and played them for him four times a day, through headphones.    

That program seemed to have had an impact. Just a month into the six-month study, Ryan started to regain consciousness.  Perhaps he would have seen that same level of improvement without hearing the recordings his family played for him. Perhaps not.  

 No one knows at this point. That’s because the study is using  “double-blinded” methodology, so that some of the test participants had tapes with no voices played to them, while others heard their families’ voices played to them. The Schroeder fmaily doesn’t know which group Ryan fell into. They won’t know until the study is finished next year.

Now it’s been a year since Ryan’s accident, and at this point he can text his buddies and have a conversation, although his speech is slurred, The Sun-Times said. But he isn’t ready to return to his life as a civil engineering student at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin.

To be a participant in the study, a person either had to have been in a vegetative state, namely lacking awareness, or just minimally conscious.

The Sun-Times reported that so far three of the five people participating in the study regained consciousness at the conclusion of the six weeks period.

The clinical trial is being funded by the federal Department of  Veterans Affairs, with the work being done in part by researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of  Medicine.

Lead researcher Theresa Pape believes that listening to familiar voices may help repair TBI patients’ damaged neural networks.