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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Sleeping Pill Awakens Unconscious Patient



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Some time ago, doctors discovered that Ambien could bring apparently unconscious patients back to awareness, although the effect would sometimes fade as the drug wore off.  A case in South Africa has repeated the phenomenon.  From the News 24 story:
After reading a report in City Press last month, his wife, Nomfundo, insisted that he be given a prescription for the sleeping pill Stilnox, which has the opposite effect on those with brain injuries. It worked – and brought him out of a seven-year coma... For the past seven years, Nomfundo has visited her husband in East London’s Newhaven Hospital, hoping for signs that the  man she had known before the accident was still inside his body. “His eyes, he couldn’t follow any direction. For instance, if you were talking to him, even if you move from this angle to that angle, he\doesn’t follow you. He couldn’t talk. Not at all,” she said. Nqinana’s doctors said he’d probably remain that way. But on August 12, family friend Nceba Mokoena came across an article in  City Press about a miracle recovery made by another car crash victim, hundreds of kilometres away in Gauteng Louis Viljoen was given the sleeping pill by chance by his mother, Sienie. She had noticed he wasn’t sleeping peacefully and asked her doctor if she  could give him half a sleeping tablet. After she did, Louis opened his eyes and said “Hello Mamma”, his first words in five years.
He's going home soon. What we don't know about the brain...


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