of a Coma Recovery
Written by Wen-chuang Chen, Hana You, Tzu-yu Chang, Wan-lin Wu
Translated by Kelvin Chen
44 Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008
The Miracle of a Coma Recovery
A c c o r d i n g t o Ta i w a n ' s
Interior Minister, there were
4,364 coma patients by the end
of December 2005. However,
by the end of the first season of
2007, this number increased to
In addition to financial
burdens of caring for coma
patients, their families have to
endure the psychological burden
of not knowing whether their
loved ones will ever recover.
This sometimes is even more
stressful than financial burdens.
Despite the odds, with the
support of love, there are cases
where coma patients actually
One such person among the
over 4,000 coma patients in
2005 is a young man in his 20s.
He became comatose after a car
accident. However, his near- After more than a year's rehab, A-Ren walks to buy a Mother's Day cake
for his Mom.
blind mother never lost faith in
his recovery, and proceeded to give him the on the treadmill. Since miraculously coming
best possible care. Two years after sinking out of a coma, he has started to re-experience
into a coma, the young man finally came out his first toothache, his first walk; and today,
of it, and was able to call "Mom" again. he is able to move about like a normal
This story demonstrates the tenacity of person. Pacing on treadmills may seem easy
love; with persistence, miracles might just to most; yet to him, this is no less than a
follow. This patient not only recovered from miracle.
a coma, after two years of rehab, he is now How so? A-Ren, as he is fondly called,
walking --- walking the path of a new life. was in a coma for nearly two years when he
miraculously regained consciousness on the
Recovery from A Coma evening of July 3, 2005. His mother who had
attended his every need throughout the coma
In the rehab room, Rey-jen Cheng paces was elated. Yet the two-year inactivity of his
Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008 45
limbs had resulted in the loss of functioning. At the time, A-Ren was 24 years old,
A-Ren had to enter rehab to be retrained. married with one son, and living with his
Although it was not easy, under the tender parents in Taipei. He looked fine after the
care and encouragement of family members, accident and left the hospital after five days.
volunteers and home care assistants, in 2007, Two months later, unexpectedly, he began
A-Ren finally was able to walk again. to suffer from headaches. An injection of
tranquilizer for the headache instead resulted
Comatose Two Months in his muscles cramping and stiffening. In
after a Car Accident August, the family decided to move back to
their hometown in Hualien to seek treatment
On the evening of May 29, 2003, a from the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. After
vibrant, young A-Ren was heading home on extensive testing, no causes were found.
his motorcycle. Before he could reach home, Meanwhile, A-Ren's muscle cramping
a traffic accident altered his life. worsened, although he was still able to talk.
Home Care Assistant Jing-ming Huang patiently guides Rey-jen Cheng to better uses of his limbs.
46 Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008
The Miracle of a Coma Recovery
On the 29th of August, he went into coma. program.
Since then, he goes to the rehab center
A Mother's Undiminished Hope -- and the Chinese Medicine Department
Hearing Him Call Mom Again daily for rehab programs and acupuncture
treatments. Eight months after coming
A-Ren's mother, Mrs. Cheng, remembers out of coma, A-Ren had a tooth extraction.
the time when A-Ren lost consciousness, Although it was painful, the pain that A-Ren
"His body was cold, yet he had a fever. He felt showed that he was regaining his body's
then lost consciousness and never talked normal functions. At this time, although
again, like a vegetable." In the beginning, he remained immobile, his muscle strength
A-Ren's wife would often come to visit was gradually being restored. Such small
him and try to talk to him. However, visits improvement greatly cheered people around
stopped after she was told, erroneously, that him. Little by little, day by day, progress
A-Ren's condition was contagious. She continued to be made.
collected his insurance money and vanished,
together with their son, never to be heard A Determined A-Ren Exclaiming
from again. "I shall succeed!"
For two years, Mrs. Cheng cared for
A-Ren attentively, never far from his bedside, "I can do it, I shall succeed!" are words
and always hopeful of his recovery. Then, A-Ren occasionally utters during rehab.
on July 3, 2005, at about 6:30 PM, A-Ren After reciting this, he would double his
miraculously woke up and uttered "Mom" effort. When asked if he's tired, he would
to her. They stared at each other— she was say: "No, no, I am not tired," despite
so moved and stunned, that she was unable sweating profusely. If asked to take a rest, he
to speak. Although she always had faith in would say, "No!" One cannot but admire his
his recovery, when it actually happened and determination.
he was calling her “Mom” again, she was His mother says that the "I shall succeed"
speechless. cheer was taught by Tzu Chi volunteers who
wished for his recovery. She added that
Daily Rehab; Feeling Pain volunteers taught A-Ren many things, and
Wasan Improvement would also occasionally wheel him to the
entrance hall to practice walking so that he
A-Ren checked out of the hospital could interact with passersby.
after his miraculous recovery, and waited A-Ren liked watching passing cars from
anxiously at home to start rehab. In October windows of the rehab room. Home care
of 2005, the day finally arrived when he assistant Mr. Huang told us that A-Ren was a
went back to the hospital to begin the rehab car mechanic, so he has an indelible memory
Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008 47
of cars. On his doctor's instructions, his
mother often talks to A-Ren about tires and Both Receiving Acupuncture
trucks, and shows him old photos to stimulate and Progressing Together
his brain, in order to recover past memories.
A-Ren has a brother and a sister working Actually, Mrs. Cheng is also one of
and studying in big cities. Right now his Dr. Lin's patients for her failing eyesight.
younger brother is the sole bread winner for Despite her blurred vision, she takes good
the family. In addition to home expenses, his care of A-Ren and takes him to the hospital
younger brother's income also has to support every day.
the younger sister who is away at school. So She says that when A-Ren first came home
the financial burden is huge. Mrs. Cheng debilitated after coming out of the coma, she
said that when the pressure is unbearable, his had to maneuver his large body in and out of
younger brother would call A-Ren, or come the wheel chair. With poor eyesight, this was
home to stay for a while, then head back to a daunting task. Often, both of them ended
work with no complaints. up on the floor. Recalling these episodes,
To meet the expectations of his family, Mrs. Cheng says: "I was mad at myself being
A-Ren works very hard at his rehabilitation, so weak and useless."
and makes "I shall succeed" his regular Now, they can often be seen together
cheer to encourage himself. He checks in at Dr. Lin's clinic receiving acupuncture
on time, dutifully goes through all treatment treatments. Seeing her beloved son
programs, and never slacks off or complains. improving daily, Mrs. Cheng proudly tells us
Gradually, A-Ren is beginning to recall progresses A-Ren has made and bits of their
things, such as the name and age of his two- daily life.
year-old son. He also reacts when hearing After over a year's rehab, another miracle
his son call him "Dad". He can even occurred for A-Ren. Soon after the Chinese
remember his home address and home phone New Year of 2007, he began to walk! Mrs.
number now. All the photos his mother has Cheng was moved to tears when A-Ren
shown him and conversations with him are took his first step. This was a giant step.
finally paying off. Although A-Ren could only walk forward
Sweating after a good workout at the at that time, she believed firmly that things
rehab center, A-Ren moves on to Dr. Lin's could only get better henceforth.
office for acupuncture treatment. Although
he bravely says that acupuncture does not The Best Mother's Day Present
hurt, when he first entered treatment, A-Ren
was terrified, trembling all over. Now he can By May 2007, A-Ren was able to walk
lay still and let Dr. Lin do his work. Dr. Yu- at will. On Mother's Day, he decided that
ning Lin is very happy with the improvement. he wanted to buy a Mother's Day cake and
48 Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008
The Miracle of a Coma Recovery
walk home to enjoy the day with his mother. possible.
On suggestions from Dr. Lin and volunteers, Hand in hand, A-Ren and his mother
they bought a cake from the hospital determinedly went to the hospital for rehab
cafeteria on the third floor and walked to and acupuncture treatments throughout
the Chinese Medicine Department on the the summer of 2007. He can now walk
first Floor. There, they celebrated A-Ren's unassisted in the hospital, and chat with
walking with all medical personnel and others. His speaking skill is so advanced
volunteers. "A-Ren regaining his walking now that he can even argue successfully with
ability is the best Mother's Day present I doctors. Despite such achievements, his
could ever have hoped for." Mrs. Cheng road ahead remains long and hard.
declares. After climbing out of the trough of
A-Ren is lucky. For four years, his coma, with courage and persistence, A-Ren
family members were always on his side, conquered physical disabilities as well. We
and his medical team continually gave him have every reason to believe that with the
attentive treatments. These made his coming same courage and persistence, he will be
out of the coma and the eventual walking able to conquer all obstacles in life.
Doctors and volunteers accompany Rey-jen Cheng throughout his recovery, giving him support and strength.
Medicine With Humanity Vol. 9 May 2008 49