Man 23 years coma has been conscious the whole time

Rom Houben who was a car crash victim in 1983 diagnosed by doctors as being in a coma for the past 23 years has been conscious the whole time. He was simply paralysed but had no way of letting doctors know that he could hear every word they were saying.

'I dreamed myself away,' said Mr Houben, now 46. He added: 'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear.'

Doctors and nurses in Zolder conducted a series of coma tests before concluding that his consciousness was "extinct".

But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.

The former martial arts enthusiast and engineering student said: "All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt."

His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released two months ago by the man who 'saved' him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys, who claims vegetative state diagnosed patients are often misdiagnosed.

He said: "In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury. About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health. But an estimated 3000 to 5000 people a year, remain trapped in an intermediate stage: they go on living without ever come back again."

Mr Houben is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down.

He said: "I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me - it was my second birth.

"I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead."

Via -


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