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California Man Wakes Up From Coma Right Before Disconnecting Life Support

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 20, 2009

Oceanside, CA ( -- A California man awoke from a coma right before his doctors were about to disconnect his life support. The story gives more credence to the notion that families should avoid making premature decisions to take the life of a loved one, because of the possibility of recovery.

Mike Connolly is a 56-year-old man whose heart stopped in late January and he lay in bed comatose for about four days when his family decided to give doctors permission to remove his life support.

That's when Connolly recovered and interacted with his world around him once again.

According to the North County Times, Connolly's stepson Mike Cooper was reading Scripture by his bedside when he noticed a tear going down Connolly's cheek. Cooper soon left the room, only to return moments later when heard another family member cheering and hollering.

"He said Mike was responding," Cooper told the newspaper. "I didn't believe him, but I went back in there, and it was true. You would say his name, and he would turn his head toward you. It was a miracle."

The news was surprising because doctors has said Connolly had brain damage from his heart stopping and would never recover from the coma.

Now he is making steady progress and the same physicians say he will make a full recovery.

Martin Nielsen, Connolly's pulmonary doctor, told the newspaper he is surprised by his full recovery and called it miraculous.

"When we get a guy like Mike Connolly, it's almost like a miracle," Nielsen said. "I've never seen anybody come back like he has."

Connolly's heart stopped beating for 35 minutes and doctors speculate his brain went without oxygen for at least 10 minutes -- making his recovery even more spectacular.

"Generally, the rule of thumb is if you go for more than four minutes without oxygen, you will see severe damage to the brain," Nielsen said.

Connolly himself is joking with his medical staff now about what happened to him, but said he still feels the pain of the CPR.

"Judging by the way my sternum feels, I'm pretty lucky," he said. "This is all still sinking in, and I think it will be for a long time."

Connolly's family needs financial help to defray the costs of his hospital stay and anyone can donate to it in care of his name at Marilyn Cipriani, 1075 Shadowridge Drive. Unit 70, Vista, CA 92081.

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