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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 19:04 GMT
Brief awakening for US coma woman
Christa Lilly
Christa Lilly said she was "so happy" to be awake

A US woman who has been in a coma-like state for over six years has astonished doctors by waking up for a period of three days.

Colorado resident Christa Lilly, 49, was able to talk to her family and meet her grandchildren for the first time.

She even gave an interview to a local TV station before slipping back into what her doctors call a minimally conscious state.

Ms Lilly fell into this state after a heart attack and stroke in late 2000.

For the most part, she has no awareness of her surroundings although her eyes are open, her doctors say.

She has had four other periods of lucidity in the past, but they have been much briefer.

'No reference point'

On Sunday, when her mother, Minnie Smith, asked her how she was, she responded with the words: "I'm fine."

Over the next three days, she was alert and able to chat to her family.

In an interview with local TV station KKTV, Ms Lilly said that waking up was "wonderful". "It makes me so happy," she said.

She told the TV station her biggest challenge was learning to talk again, but that eating was fine. "I've been eating cake," she said.

But on Wednesday she slipped back into her coma-like state.

One of her doctors, Randall Bjork, said he could not explain why his patient woke up.

"There's really no reference point in our medical literature," he told the Denver Post newspaper.

Minnie Smith said she was grateful for the time with her daughter.

"The good Lord let me know she's all right," she told KKTV. "He brings her back to visit every so often and I'm thankful for that."

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