Chinese Man Speaks After 10 Years in Comatose State

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Chinese Man Speaks After 10 Years in Comatose State

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 3, 2004

Lanxi, China ( — A Chinese man who has been comatose for more than 10 years awoke two years ago and recently began speaking, the China Daily news service reports. This case is giving renewed hope to families with patients in comatose or disabled states, such as Terri Schiavo.

Xu Youliang, a teacher, fell off a cliff in December 1993 while on a trip with students. He was attempting to save one student who had slipped off the edge. However, the recuse was in vain and both fell. The student died and Xu went into a coma.

Doctors said he had a very slim chance of recovery. That didn’t stop his parents and family from taking care of him and doing their best to help him recover from his injuries.

Xu was 24 at the time and, although his wife left him, his mother, Zhang Genxiang, never gave up hope.

"We’ll never give up as long as he’s still got breath in him," Zhang told China Daily.

The poor, rural farming family did the best it could to care for Xu and provide him with food — often through his nose and turning his body so it would enter into his system.

The care left the family with a huge financial debt, but they began to feel their efforts had paid off when Xu awoke from the coma in 2001. To the surprise of doctors and nurses, Xu opened his eyes.

Xu’s family helped him learn to sit up and raise his hand. He learned to smile, shake hands and swallow porridge and soup. But he didn’t speak.

That is until recently, when Xu called his mother "mamma." His mother thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world and the best gift for the Chinese New Year.

Soon after, Xu could speak a few words like "papa," "hello," and "thank you."

Now in a nursing home for senior citizens, Xu can speak more, though not in complete sentences.
Before the accident, Xu was the pride of his family. He was the only university graduate in the village, an exemplary teacher at a school and a hero for fighting floods in 1989.

"He’s always had faith in the doctors and himself," said Qian Yuefang, a specialist for paralytic patients, who helps care for Xu. "His recovery is incredibly fast."