Hillsborough survivor 'awakes'

Vegetative state man communicates with family after eight years

A man diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for eight years since the Hillsborough disaster has begun to start communicating again with his parents, it emerged last night.

Andrew Devine, now 30, was brain-damaged in the crush at the Sheffield Wednesday football stadium in which 95 fans died in 1989. He was diagnosed at the time as being in a PVS.

After a few months in hospital he was taken home to their family house in Allerton, near Liverpool, and has been cared for by his parents, Stanley and Margaret, there ever since.

They have consistently refused to allow the termination of the artifical feeding that has kept their son alive in the hope that one day he would recover some of his faculties.

The news is likely to reignite the row about the quality of PVS diagnoses and the moral dilemma over whether a patient believed to be in such a state should be allowed to die, and at what stage.

Mr Devine's condition was believed to be similar to that of Tony Bland, another victim of the stadium tragedy who was allowed to die after a decision made by the House of Lords in 1993. It was a landmark decision for "right to die" cases. After the ruling, the Devines' solicitor, Rex Makin, said: "Mr and Mrs Devine sympathise with the Blands but their attitude is not the same. They hope that one day [Andrew] may recover some of his faculties." That day seemed to have arrived yesterday.

Mr Makin confirmed reports that Andrew had become aware of his surroundings and was once again communicating with members of his family.

Mr Makin would not comment further than saying that the Devines and his son Robin Makin, who has taken on the case for the family and was a former school colleague of Andrew, were both delighted by the news.

In a statement released last night, Robin Makin said: "Andrew does have some re- cognised cognition and he is aware of what's going on around him. All the hard work which has gone into looking after him has had some very real benefit. He communicates by pressing a touch-sensitive switch - one for 'yes' and two for 'no'." He has benefited from "the devoted love and care of his parents combined with a proper care regime and physiotherapy," Mr Makin added.

Andrew's present condition was "chalk and cheese" compared with his previous state. "He hasn't been languishing in a bed somewhere. He's had constant stimulation."

Mr and Mrs Devine could not be contacted at their home last night.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant - Travel

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Auto centre is based in We...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate