By Hilary White
  COLORADO SPRINGS, March 7, 2007 ( – A woman who spent nearly seven years in a coma, woke up for a short time Sunday and started talking. Christa Lilly, a native of Colorado Springs, relapsed into her previous unconscious state today.
  Lilly suffered a heart attack and then a stroke in November 2000 and was diagnosed as being in a “vegetative” state but with her eyes open. Like Florida’s Terri Schindler Schiavo, she is being kept alive by a feeding and hydration tube while unconscious.  
  During her short period of wakefulness, Lilly spoke with CBS affiliate KKTV news reporters, saying, “I think it’s wonderful. It makes me so happy.” She said that she was having difficulty re-learning how to speak, but was eating cake. Lilly had experienced periods of wakefulness before, but had never spoken.
  The neurologist overseeing her case, Dr. Randall Bjork, told reporters that he had no answer why Lilly woke up. “This is all mystical and I can’t explain it.”
  The so-called persistent vegetative state diagnosis is commonly used to justify the removal of artificial nutrition and hydration tubes and has added fuel to the euthanasia and assisted suicide movement.
  The diagnosis, however, is increasingly being questioned as more patients such as Lilly wake up unexpectedly.
  Last year, a report was issued by a group of researchers from Cambridge University in England showing that patients who are apparently unconscious often have more brain functioning than previously suspected. 
  The research showed that responses to verbal stimuli in a comatose patient were similar to those of conscious volunteers. Dr. Adrian Owen at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge, told The New York Times he was “absolutely stunned” by the discovery.
  Read related coverage:
“Vegetative” Patient Shows Conscious Awareness