By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer
He was beaten and left for dead one night in a robbery while walking home in 1999. His skull was crushed and his brain severely damaged. The doctor said if he pulled through at all, he'd be a vegetable for the rest of his life.
For six years, the man could not speak or eat.
On occasion he showed signs of awareness, and he moved his eyes or a thumb to communicate. His arms were useless. He was fed through a tube.
But researchers chose him for an experimental attempt to rev up his brain by placing electrodes in it. And here's how his mother describes the change in her son, now 38:
"My son can now eat, speak, watch a movie without falling asleep," she said Wednesday while choking back tears during a telephone news conference. "He can drink from a cup. He can express pain. He can cry and he can laugh.
"The most important part is he can say, `Mommy' and `Pop.' He can say, `I love you, Mommy' ... I still cry every time I see my son, but it's tears of joy."
Gee, maybe we should wait until we have randomized clinical trials or some sort of meta analysis before allowing people to have access to such advances once they become commercially available. You know, it might be cheaper just to keep people in a vegetative state because at a $50000 QALY....
I know I am supposed to be constructive and work with the "stakeholders" and all that. But let me just say what a waste of time it all is and to be the first to warn all the patient groups that are sucking up to all the "stakeholders" how they are being used.