Miraculous recoveries from brain trauma are always good news, but they may not be as miraculous as they first seem. However, the Daily Mail’s account of a boy who recovered fully after four specialists declared that he was brain dead makes one question if doctors really understand brain death.
Steven Thorpe was 17 when he was involved in a serious car accident in 2008 which left another passenger dead. He had serious injuries to his arm, face and head and was declared “brain dead”. ‘The doctors were telling my parents that they wanted to take me off the life support,” Steven told the newspaper. “The words they used to my parents were “You need to start thinking about organ donations”.’
Fortunately his parents sensed that their son was still there. ‘I think if my dad had agreed with them then I would have been off the life support machine in seconds,’ says Steven sardonically. They contacted a GP with expertise in traditional and alternative medicine and she persuaded another neurologist to examine him. He detected some brain activity and had him released him from his induced coma. Two weeks later he woke up.
As the GP said, “one worries that this may happen more often than we know”. A spokesman for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: “The injury to Steven’s brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage. It is extremely rare that a patient with such extensive trauma to the brain should survive. We were delighted to see Steven recover.” ~ Daily Mail, Apr 24