Man in Vegetative State for 12 Years

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Photo courtesy of

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At the age of 12, Martin Pistorious was diagnosed with Cryptococci Meningitis. The doctors sent him home to die.  However, dying was the last thing on his mind.


For more than a decade, his parents cared for him.  They were giving up hope, as there were no signs of responsiveness in Martin.  Each morning at 5 o’clock, his father got up to get him dressed and take him to his special care center where he would watch the T.V. show “Barney” for hours at a time.


His father would pick him up eight hours later to return home, bathe him, and get him ready for bed.  He would set an alarm each night to go in and move Martin so he wouldn’t get bedsores.


At one point, his mother even said, “I hope you die.” She was searching for relief.


Nobody had any idea that Martin was hearing everything going on around him.  He was never a “vegetable.”  He had been trapped inside of his own body for 8 out of the 12 years fully conscious, but with no control.


Four years into his ordeal, he began to wake up.  He was scared that he was going to be trapped inside his body forever and be totally alone, with no way to communicate.  He heard the mean words his mother had said to him and began to believe that no one had faith in him anymore.


Eventually, he became so frustrated with the state he was in that he tried to take control of his own body.  He has now written a book called Ghost Boy in which he states, “My mind was trapped inside a useless body, my arms and legs weren’t mine to control and my voice was mute. I couldn’t make a sign or sounds to let anyone know I’d become aware again. I was invisible—the ghost boy.”


Through faith and determination, Martin was able to begin to control his body.  At first, he could only control his eyes.

He is now married to the love of his life and in more control of his body. He uses a voice synthesizer to speak and uses a wheelchair to get around.




Jentri Lyman This is Jentri’s second year at Snow College; she graduated from Delta High in 2013. She is an art major and enjoys drawing, painting, being in the mountains, softball and snowboarding. She has done photography and writing for the Snowdrift. After Snow College, she plans to move back home, get married, get a job and see where life takes her.

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