Ben McMahon's parents were overjoyed when their son woke up after a week in a coma -- but they were shocked when they learned he could no longer speak English.
"I kind of slowly came out of the coma and then set eyes upon an Asian looking nurse and then the first thing that came was natural was to come out and say in Chinese, 'Excuse me nurse, I feel really sore here,'" which Ben McMahon said in fluent Mandarin.
The now 22-year-old student was suddenly speaking and writing in Mandarin due to a phenomenon known as Foreign Language Syndrome.
According to Pimsleur, "Foreign Language Syndrome occurs after a serious accident or injury to the brain renders victims unconscious. When the patients come around they find themselves talking in completely different languages that they weren't able to speak prior to the incident."
In 2012, McMahon was the passenger in car accident that left him in a coma. Doctors told his parents it would be a "miracle if he survived." Thankfully, he did survive -- but he woke up a different person.
Growing up, McMahon had studied both French and Chinese, but could never speak the language fluently until after the coma.
Instances of Foreign Language Syndrome are rare but they do happen. In some cases accompanied by amnesia.
Ben McMahon regained his ability to speak English and retained his new-found skills with Mandarin, impressing even native speakers.
Now fully recovered, McMahon lives in Shanghai running Mandarin walking tours, hosting TV shows and attending school.
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