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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
US man wakes from 19-year coma
Terry Wallis
Terry Wallis: Weekend trips away kept his brain working
A man from the US state of Arkansas has regained consciousness after spending 19 years in a coma.

Terry Wallis, 39, had been at the centre of an accident in July 1984 when a car he was travelling in plunged into a creek.

The driver of the vehicle, Mr Wallis' friend, died.

Mr Wallis was discovered by rescuers a day later, but was comatose.

He has many historic events to catch up with, including the election of his state governor, Bill Clinton, to the presidency of the United States, his time in office and his handover to George W Bush.

He startled his family by speaking suddenly almost a month ago.

"He started out with 'Mom' and surprised her and then it was 'Pepsi' and then it was 'milk,'" Alesha Badgley, Stone County Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre social director, said.

I couldn't tell you my first thought, I just fell over on the floor
Angilee Wallis
"And now it's anything he wants to say."

Mr Wallis' father, Jerry Wallis, said his son uttered his first word. "He has improved every day since," he said.

Terry Wallis' wife, Sandi, said the whole family had missed his company.

"It's been hard dealing with it. It's been hard realising the man I married can't be there," she said.

Mr Wallis also has a daughter, Amber, who was born shortly before the accident took place.

She is now 19 and Mr Wallis - who was left a quadriplegic as a result of the crash - has said he wants to walk again, for her.

Terry Wallis
Terry Wallis was at the centre of a car accident
His mother, Angilee Wallis, called her son's return to consciousness "a miracle".

"I couldn't tell you my first thought, I just fell over on the floor," she said.

Doctors at the rehabilitation centre said Mr Wallis' recovery might be due in part to his family taking him out at weekends and special occasions.

"The doctor said that's why he remembers things; we might have kept his mind going," Sandi Wallis said.


SEE ALSO:
Catching up on two lost decades
09 Jul 03  |  Americas
Sleep clue to coma
02 Dec 02  |  Health
Coma woman's anger at theft
11 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Woman in coma after cow 'attack'
21 May 03  |  Cumbria
British man in coma after crash
21 Feb 03  |  England



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