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Man Wakes from 19 Year Coma

Updated on September 5, 2011

Terry and Daughter Amber

It was Friday, July 13th 1984 when 19 year old Terry Wallis was in a major car accident near his home in Mountain View, Arkansas. Wallis and close friend "Chub" Moore were out for a leisurely drive when Wallis suddenly lost control of his vehicle and crashed through a guardrail, plunging 25 feet down into a creek bed below. Police found them early the next morning under a bridge. Terry was comatose and his friend was dead.

It would be 19 years before he would see his then 17 year old wife and six-week old daughter again. Ironically, it was a date that again fell on a Friday the 13th in June of 2003.

Terry was admitted to Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and placed on a ventilator for long term maintenance. There was nothing more doctors could do. When he awoke, his daughter was 19 and his parents were still living.

His first word was "Mom," his second, "Pepsi. He later asked for milk. Terry's speech recovered slowly at first, a few words at a time. By the second day Terry was still speaking slowly, but normally as if nothing had ever happened. Terry believed the year was 1984 and Ronald Reagan was still president.

According to neurological specialists, Terry's long term memory seemed to function normally, only frozen in 1984. However, he was surprised to find he was now a paraplegic. In any case, for someone to recover from a coma after nearly 20 years is extremely rare, they said.

Since re-awakening in 2003, Terry’s speech and memory have continued to improve, giving physicians new perspectives into neurology and cognitive processes. It’s been discovered his brain is forming new neural connections, something formerly believed not possible following severe brain trauma.


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    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I can't even imagine what it would be like to wake up knowing you were in a coma for 19 years. You don't hear stories like that very often. Very interesting hub.

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 6 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      The part about the brain being able to form new neural connections after severe brain trauma gives hope to others. You can bet that will be studied at length.

      I wonder what it's like for him now. Technology has all but left him behind. There were no cell phones like what we have today. They used to be huge and rare. What about other advances as well.

      He didn't know anything about the towers falling or anything relating to that.

      No only that, but what is his hospital bill like now. He's going to need a lot of help.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Caw, Caw!!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow, talk about Rip Van Winkle. Have always been intrigued by these kind of stories. Just fascinating. Thanks for choosing this one John and writing it up. You've got an eagle eye for great topics my friend.

    • Heather McMillan profile image

      Heather McMillan 6 years ago from Hampton, VA

      How awesome to wake up after 19 years, but how sad to have lost all those years of watching his daughter grow up. The hard part could very well be trying to deal with all the years he lost. Rated up and interesting.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Brilliant hub, we all need to know of miracles every now and then

    • SerLeon profile image

      SerLeon 6 years ago from Pakistan

      nice hub JY . . . . . . . Sad how the guy lost 19 years of his life . . . . . I wonder how he's getting on . . . . God bless the guy . .Amen

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Hi JY3502,

      What a fascinating hub!!! I have never heard of this guy's story until now. I didn't think it would be possible either for someone to survive so long in a comatosed state. I think this just goes to prove that we have so much more to learn about the brain and in fact, although we have made progress, we still know so little.

      As for this guy, maybe his battle is just beginning. Not just with re-learning speech etc., but coming to terms with the missing years of his life and of course the grief of loosing his friend in the accident as well. Here's hoping things continue to improve for him and his family. Fantastic hub.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Sheila, sometimes they are aware. He did talk about a cell phone, knew what it was, but not what one looked like

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      I join the others who hadn't heard about this man's recovery. One thing I always wonder is if someone in a coma is aware of hearing people talk to him. Has this man said anything about those 19 years?

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Tammy, thank you for becoming a follower.

    • tammyfrost profile image

      Tammy Frost 6 years ago from Oregon

      I never heard about this but it is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Kathy, I had never heard of it. And if I haven't there's bound to be many more, so I wrote it.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      JY, I believe I remember hearing about this; in fact; I'm sure of it. A true miracle. This RARELY occurs...odds are so great against such a recovery that it falls under the category of miracle. At least to me, it does. Very interesting and awesome, useful (don't ever give up hope!!!) and UP, of course