Man Spent 13 Years In A Coma After A Sore Throat: ''Felt Like A Ghost''

He revealed that he was aware of important events happening in the world by listening to the TV or people speaking around him.

May 6, 2024 - 20:30
Man Spent 13 Years In A Coma After A Sore Throat: ''Felt Like A Ghost''

A man from South Africa, who survived more than a decade in a coma, has shared details of his remarkable recovery. Martin Pistorius from Johannesburg, shared the terrifying reality of living trapped in his own body "like a ghost", while still being able to hear, see and comprehend everything around him. 

It all started when Mr Pistorius, who is now 47, came home from school one day suffering from a sore throat, The Sun reported. He was only 12 at that time, and it was assumed he had the flu. However, his condition became increasingly worse as he lost the ability to walk, and eat on his own and also, the ability to communicate. He tested positive for cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain. Eventually, he crashed into a coma. His mother said Martin's last words as a child were spoken in the hospital: "When home?"

Doctors told his parents that there was nothing that could be done, but they decided to keep him alive in a care centre. Four years later, he had a small breakthrough as he regained consciousness but he was unable to talk or move, as per The Independent. 

"I remember around my 16th birthday people talking about the stubble on my chin and wondering whether to shave me. It scared and confused me to listen to what was being said because, although I had no memories or sense of a past, I was sure I was a child and the voices were speaking about a soon-to-be man,'' he said. 

He revealed that he was aware of important events happening in the world by listening to the TV or people speaking around him. 

''I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn't notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – alone. For me, that feeling of complete and utter powerlessness is probably the worst feeling I have ever experienced, and I hope I never have to experience it again. It is like you don't exist, every single thing in your life is decided by someone else,'' he told NBC News. 

Years passed, but he was still trapped in a body that wouldn't move and was left with nothing but his thoughts and imagination.

In 2001, when Mr Pistorius was 25, a relief carer at the day centre encouraged his parents to take him to the Centre For Augmentative And Alternative Communication at the University Of Pretoria where he passed a test by pointing at objects with his eyes.

His parents then bought him a computer which was preloaded with communication software, similar to the technology used by Stephen Hawking. After years and years of practice, he was able to communicate using synthetic speech. He eventually learned how to make websites and graduated from university. Five years later, he met his now-wife Joan in 2008 through his sister Kim and they married the following year. They welcomed a son, Sebastian Albert Pistorius, in 2018 and often shares pictures of his family on Instagram.

He now works as a computer scientist and web developer. 

He said: ''Once, I was perceived to be an inanimate object, a mindless phantom of a boy in a wheelchair. Today, I am so much more. A husband, a son, a friend, a brother, a business owner, a first-class honours graduate, a keen amateur photographer. I can communicate that has given me all this.''

His remarkable story is captured in an autobiography, ''Ghost Boy.''

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