Italian Coma Victim Awakens After Two Years, Says He Heard Everything

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 5, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italian Coma Victim Awakens After Two Years, Says He Heard Everything Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 5, 2005

Rome, Italy ( — A man who had been placed in a coma for two years as a result of an automobile accident recently awoke and told doctors and his family that he heard and understood everything going on around him during the time.

Salvatore Crisafulli, a father of four, describes his case as a "miracle" proving that lost causes are not hopeless.

"The doctors said that I wasn’t conscious, but I understood everything and I cried in desperation," Crisafulli, who is 38, told Italian media outlets Thursday.

Although the situations are not entirely similar, Crisafulli’s brother Pietro called the recovery "an Italian Terri Schiavo case."

He emerged from the coma three months ago and began speaking recently — his first word was "Mamma."

The news comes at the same time as a national bioethics committee in Italy put forward guidelines saying that incapacitated patients should be provided normal medical care, including food and water.

"To feed an unconscious patient through a tube is not a medical act," the committee’s president, Francesco D’Agostino, said, according to a Reuters report. "It’s like giving a bottle to a newborn baby who can’t be nursed by its mother … And then we reflect on the Schiavo case. The woman was left to die of starvation."

"My brother speaks and remembers. I don’t expect that he will be like he was, but it’s already a miracle," Pietro told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper. "And to think that some doctors said that it was all useless and that he would be dead in three, four months."