'Ghost Boy' tells true story of waking from 12-year coma

'Ghost Boy' Tells True Story of Waking From 12-Year Coma
'Ghost Boy' Tells True Story of Waking From 12-Year Coma

In 1988, at just 12 years old, Martin Pistorius' health started to decline. He soon went into a coma-like state for 12 years, but now he's awake and telling an amazing story.

Pistorius says while he couldn't move or speak during all those years, he was still conscious. He tells his miraculous story of recovery in his book "Ghost Boy."

Pistorius also wrote a piece about his ordeal in the Daily Mail:

"I was treated for tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis, but no conclusive diagnosis was made. Medication after medication was tried -– to no effect. I'd travelled beyond what medicine understood. I was lost in the land where dragons lie and no one could rescue me."

Pistorius says he began to "wake up" mentally around age 16 and was completely aware by 19 -- but nobody knew that.

Feeling frustrated and desperate, one day Pistorius' mother told him she hoped he would die. Reflecting on that day, she told NPR: "I know that's a horrible thing to say. I just wanted some sort of relief."

The condition that best describes what Pistorius was going through is called Locked-In Syndrome. It's rare and causes complete paralysis of muscles, except the eyes. There is no cure.

Yet all wasn't lost for Pistorius. At 25, a care worker urged Pistorius' family to take him to the Centre For Augmentative And Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria, which would help Pistorius start communicating with the outside world.

After that, Pistorius got various devices that helped him communicate with others more and more. Amazingly, his body has gotten a bit better, too.

"It involved inexplicable neurological developments and a painstaking battle to prove that he existed."

Pistorius found love and married in 2009.

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