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'There Is Hope': Man Comes Out of 'Permanent Vegetative State' after 15 Years

Fr. Mark Hodges : Oct 3, 2017  LifeSiteNews.com

They artificially stimulated Jack's vagus nerve every day for a month. The results produced a medical science breakthrough perhaps greater than the discovery of penicillin...

(Lyon, France)— [LifeSiteNews.com] No human being is ever a "vegetable," but the phrase "Permanent Vegetative State" certainly described "Jack." (Photo: Shutterstock/via LifeSiteNews.com)

If someone falls into a "Persistent Vegetative State" (PVS), being completely unaware and unresponsive for a whole year, their condition is diagnosed as permanent.

Colloquially speaking, Jack (a pseudonym) looked awake, but he "wasn't there." Now, French doctors have shattered that medical conviction by reviving the 35-year-old man who spent 15 unresponsive years after a severe car accident.

Doctors implanted a device to stimulate Jack's vagus nerve, the longest of the involuntary nerves that runs from the base of the brain to the abdomen. Besides helping regulate heart, lungs, and digestive tract, the nerve has a lot to do with wakefulness and attention.

They artificially stimulated Jack's vagus nerve every day for a month. The results produced a medical science breakthrough perhaps greater than the discovery of penicillin.

Their subject responded for the first time in 15 years.

Jack didn't gain full awareness, but he responded to simple requests. He followed objects with his eyes. He could turn his head when asked. He stayed awake listening to a therapist read a book. His eyes opened wide when someone suddenly got in his face.

In medical terms, he went from a "permanent vegetative state" to a minimally conscious state. "He cannot talk, but he can respond. Now he is more aware," study leader Angela Sirigu of the Institute of Cognitive Science in Lyon said.

His dramatic change was documented in brain scan "before" and "after" comparisons. (PIC of brain scan comparison)

To the pro-life layman, this is a major vindication.

"Ever since Terri Schiavo, writing about the wrongness of removing feeding tubes from patients diagnosed with persistent unconsciousness (PVS) ... is like spitting in the wind," columnist Wesley J. Smith wrote. "Patients in this condition are often dehydrated to death by having their feeding tubes removed, which takes up to two weeks. ... People with minimal awareness are legally dehydrated in all 50 states."

"This should be good news that should cause us to pause in removing feeding tubes from the unconscious," Smith advised. "Some bioethicists even want such removals to become standard" after a year or two, he warned.

Some still defend starving or painfully dehydrating patients "because they may be in horror at their impaired condition or otherwise suffering." But Smith said a major study of patients who appeared completely unconscious but proved later to actually be awake and aware "shows that most are 'happy,' and majorities would not want euthanasia"...

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