Man Trapped in “Coma” for 23 Years, Conscious the Entire Time
Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them – but could make no sound.
‘I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,’ said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state.
‘I dreamed myself away,’ he added, tapping his tale out with the aid of a computer.
Doctors used a range of coma tests before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was ‘extinct’.
But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.
Mr Houben described the moment as ‘my second birth’. Therapy has since allowed him to tap out messages on a computer screen.
Mr Houben said: ‘All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt.’
His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who ‘saved’ him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.
‘Medical advances caught up with him,’ said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.
The disclosure will also renew the right-to-die debate over whether people in comas are truly unconscious.