NewsFri Feb 15, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Woman Diagnosed as “Brain Dead” Walks and Talks after Awakening
By Hilary White
LAKE ELMO, Minnesota, February 15, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - 65-year-old Raleane "Rae" Kupferschmidt’s relatives were told by doctors that she was "brain dead" after she had suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage in mid-January, according to an Associated Press Report. Her family had taken her home to die and were in the process of grieving and planning her funeral when she awoke and was rushed back to hospital.
In accordance with her own wishes, doctors had removed Rae’s breathing tube and were waiting for her to die. She was taken home from the hospital, and while friends and family gathered to say a last good bye, Kupferschmidt’s daughter Lisa Sturm used an ice cube to wet her mother’s dry lips. When her mother sucked on the ice cube, she thought it was only an instinctive reaction. She said, "I knew suckling is a very basic brain stem function, so I didn’t get real excited. But when I did it again she just about sucked the ice cube out of my hand, and I looked at my aunt and said, ‘Did you see that?’"
"So I leaned down and asked, ‘Mom… Mom, are you in there?’" Sturm said. "And when she shook her head and mouthed, ‘Yes,’ we all just about fell over."
Rae was rushed back to the hospital and underwent surgery to drain the blood clot from her skull. After surgery, she recovered her strength and is now undergoing physical therapy and can walk with the aid of a walker. Doctors expect her to be walking on her own within weeks. Rae says she does not remember anything during her coma.
"I still don’t know what my task is here on this Earth, but I know God’s not done with me yet. How else could you explain everything that has happened to me?" Rae said.
She told family that she had seen angels in her room. "I said these angels are not here to take me home to my father. They’re here to help me, to help me get over this."
"Brain death" or "death by neurological criteria," is common media terminology for patients who are said to be in an irreversible coma, sometimes referred to as a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS).
Physicians and bioethicists who support "brain death" criteria claim that such a diagnosis is reliable and means that a patient is beyond any hope of recovery.
Under new bioethics criteria, "brain death" can be used as a condition under which organs are removed from a patient while his heart is kept beating. Organ transplant requires that tissue be recovered from donors as close to physical death as possible and physicians are under heavy pressure to procure more organs.
The fact that in some cases patients who have been unconscious, semi-conscious or severely neurologically disabled have been declared "brain dead" or "PVS" only to recover, has undermined public confidence in the medical system.
In the US in 2006, Terry Wallis, who experienced a car wreck in 1984, woke unexpectedly and began to recover after 19 years in a minimally conscious state. In 2005 in Italy, Salvatore Crisafulli woke from a coma he had suffered for two years. He had been declared "nearly dead" by doctors after a serious auto accident that left him unresponsive. In Poland in 2007, a railway worker astonished his family and doctors when he awoke spontaneously after 19 years.
Doctors at United Hospital said they are amazed by Rae Kupferschmidt’s recovery. One told Good Morning America, "I’ve been here for ten years and I’ve never seen anything quite like this."
Rae told Good Morning America, "God’s got something for me to do. When I learn it, I’ll unfold it and follow it."
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