Boy in 12-Year Coma Finally Breaks Free—He Was Aware of Everything That Was Happening

October 19, 2017

Martin Pistorius was a happy and healthy boy, growing up in South Africa in the late 1980s. He probably was interested in his cassette tape player, playing basketball out front, and skateboarding down his street with his friends.


At age 12, Martin's life would take a drastic turn. A mysterious illness began to take over his body. He came home one day after school complaining of a sore throat.

His parents took him to the doctors, but, unfortunately, they weren't sure what it was. The doctors believed it was cryptococcal meningitis.

Each day Martin began to lose more and more control of his body. This soon turned into a loss of appetite, sleeping almost all day, he lost his ability to make eye contact, and then, finally, he stopped communicating. His whole body became limp, and as a result, he was unable to function normally.

The doctors told his parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, that Martin was as good as gone — a vegetable. The parents were suggested to take Martin home and keep him comfortable until he died.

But Martin didn't die. "Martin just kept going, just kept going," Joan said,

Rodney would set his alarm for 5 a.m. to get Martin dressed every morning, buckle him up in the car, drive him to a care center where Rodney would leave him for the day.

"Eight hours later, I'd pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him to bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I'd wake up to turn him so that he didn't get bedsores," Rodney recalls.

This was the Pistorius' lives for 12 years.

Joan clearly remembers staring at Martin and saying, "'I hope you die.' I know that's a horrible thing to say," she says now. "I just wanted some sort of relief."

When she said those horrible words to her son, she didn't think he would hear, nor comprehend what she just told him. But Martin did hear it and understood every word.

"The rest of the world felt so far away when she said those words," Martin said.

"Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up," Martin says now. Martin is in his 40s and lives in Harlow, England.

But Martin was still trapped. He only had his negative thoughts for company.

"No one will ever show me tenderness. No one will ever love me. You are doomed," he would think.

As time went on, Martin began to understand his mother's desperation and learned to forgive her. And as time continued, Martin began to feel something strange.

He felt his mind coming back to life. He couldn't quite describe it, but he realized this body was his. His body began to move, but completely independent from his mind — he couldn't control his limbs. He described the relationship with his mind and body in an "endless fight."

Each day he became more and more aware. His mind was getting stronger. Martin recalls his mind waking up around the age of 16 and by age 19 he saw everything clearly.

"Have you ever seen one of those movies in which someone wakes up as a ghost but they don’t know that they’ve died?" Martin said in his book, "The Ghost Boy." "That’s how it was, as I realised people were looking through and around me. I was invisible – the ghost boy."

He did everything he could to get them to notice him. But his efforts were never enough. A very alert mind was trapped in a useless body.

Thankfully, a nurse, Virna van der Walt, began caring for Martin. She talked to him. Asked him questions and noticed he would provide cues with his eyes, a long breath through his nose, and even a small smile.

In 2001, Martin was 25. Virna insisted Martin be seen at Centre For Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria. There Martin ran through a series of tests; one's in which he mastered.

Martin's parents saw this and purchased him a computer filled with communication software. To communicate, Martin would select symbols.

“I would click on a symbol of an ear, then one of a sink.” "‘Sounds like sink? You want pink?’ Mum asked. I smiled: the word was added to my grid. Soon I got a new device," Martin said in his book. The computer would even say the word he selected — his new voice.

As years went on, Martin became "himself." He can control his parts of his body now and he still uses his computer to communicate. He and a beautiful woman, Joanna, got married in 2009. Martin had a ring made for her that represented their love. Joanna was the person who showed Martin the true meaning of the sacred Bible verse: “There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

To read more about his life, you can purchase his book, "The Ghost Boy," here.

You can watch his inspiring story below:

Link to video: click here.

In other news, during a car accident, a woman's husband died on scene while her son fell into a coma. When her son woke up, he said this about his dad!

Next: Son In Coma Doesn't Know Dad Died, When Mom Asks Do You Know Where Daddy Is, His Response Shook Her to Her CoreApr 30, 2018