Boy comatose wakes up after 2 years

By Thuy An   October 21, 2019 | 11:41 pm PT
A 15-year-old boy in northern Hoa Binh Province, who was in a coma for two years due to Japanese encephalitis, has regained consciousness.

The radiant smile of the boy, who came to on October 18, brightened up all of Hoa Binh General Hospital. Dr Hoang Cong Tinh and his colleagues tested his reflex movements, and could not hold back their excitement: "What a miracle!"

The smile of the boy after 2 years in coma. Photo courtesy of his doctor.

The smile of the boy after 2 years in coma. Photo courtesy of his doctor.

In 2017 the boy contracted Japanese encephalitis, and the poor family decided to get him treated at the Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics.

He fell into a coma and his limbs were paralyzed, and doctors had to put him on a ventilator. The family decided to bring him to the Hoa Binh General Hospital closer home.

Tinh, who was in charge of him, said: "His condition did not improve much in the last one year. He could not stay away from the mechanical ventilator."  He suffered from brain damage due to complications caused by Japanese encephalitis.

On the morning of October 18, Tinh visited his patient as usual and realized that the boy seemed to be regaining consciousness. He gently instructed him to "please imitate my gestures" and to practice some simple movements like closing and opening the eyes, moving the eyes from right to left and putting the tongue in and out.

Since the boy was breathing through a machine, his speech condition could not be judged.

Finally the doctor leaned down and said "Can you smile?" To the surprise of everyone, the boy looked around at people and beamed brightly.

"Seeing that radiant smile surprised us a lot. We are also delighted since after two years in a vegetative state, there are signs of central nervous system recovery though not comprehensive."

With patients who fall into a vegetative state, brain recovery is the most critical factor.

Doctors have yet to assess the boy’s ability to recover. For now they are trying to get him to breathe on his own so that they can pull out the tubes and allow him to speak. Next they will consider how to restore his other functions.

Tinh said: "The recovery ahead will be very challenging, but we will not give up the fight."

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