Man who woke from 19-year coma to say ‘mom’ has died at age 57

Man’s nearly two-decade coma was subject of media fascination

John Bowden
Monday 04 April 2022 09:11
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Man who woke from 19-year coma to say ‘mom’ has died at age 57
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An Arkansas man who spent nearly two decades in a coma before waking up and regaining his ability to speak has died at the age of 57.

Terry Wayne Wallis died on Tuesday, according to an obituary first reported by The New York Post. Mr Wallis’ story became semi-famous in 2003 when a handful of news organisations, including CNN and the BBC, reported on his shocking recovery and revival.

Mr Wallis was 19 years old when he and a friend, who was driving, were in an automobile accident that left him in a coma while the driver was killed. A second passenger emerged from the devastating wreck unscathed. Mr Wallis would go on to spend nearly 19 years in a comatose state before opening his eyes and stunning his care team by regaining his ability to speak less than a month lather.

“He started out with ‘Mom,’ and then it was ‘Pepsi,’ and then it was ‘milk,’” an employee with the Stone County Rehabilitation Center told news outlets at the time.

After that, his ability returned quickly, they added: “And now it’s anything he wants to say.”

Mr Wallis is survived by his daughter Amber, who was born shortly before the wreck, as well as his grandchildren.

His mother Angilee Wallis described her son’s recovery in 2003 as a “miracle”.

“I couldn’t tell you my first thought, I just fell over on the floor,” she said of the day he awoke from the coma.

According to his obituary, family members would regularly visit him during his period of unconsciousness and even bring him home from the hospital on alternate weekends, about which they noted: “Doctors believe that this stimulation contributed to his awakening period.”

“Terry was a great teaser and loved to tease his sister,” Mr Wallis’s obituary continued. “His wonderful sense of humor will be greatly missed by his family.”

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