The boy who came back from the dead: Experts said car crash teen was beyond hope. His parents disagreedSteven Thorpe awoke from 2-week coma after car crash that killed a manHis devastated parents were even asked to consider donating his organs
Doctors found signs of life only after his father begged them to recheck him
00:55 GMT, 25 April 2012
Medical marvel: Doctors described Stephen Thorpe, 21, as 'truly a unique case' after he awoke from a coma following a multiple car crash that left him needing a machine to stay alive
They were told there was no chance of their son surviving after he suffered devastating injuries in a car crash.
But Steven Thorpe’s parents refused to give up hope – despite four specialists declaring that the 17-year-old was brain dead.
Convinced they saw a ‘flicker’ of life
as Steven lay in a coma, John and Janet Thorpe rejected advice to
switch off his life support machine.
They begged for another opinion – and it was a decision that saved him.
A neurosurgeon found faint signs of
brain activity and two weeks later, Steven woke from his coma. Within
seven weeks, he had left hospital.
And four years on, the trainee accounts clerk says he owes everything to the persistence of his parents.
From his home in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, Steven, 21, said: ‘I feel so lucky that my parents wouldn’t take no for an answer.’
The schoolboy was travelling in a
Rover with two friends in February 2008 when a stray horse ran into the
path of the car in front of them.
His friend Matthew Jones, 18, was
killed in the accident. Steven suffered serious injuries to his face,
head and arm, and was declared brain dead two days later.
He said: ‘The doctors were telling my
parents that they wanted to take me off the life support. The words they
used to my parents were “You need to start thinking about organ
‘I think that’s what gave my dad
energy. He thought “No way”. They still believed I was there. When they
sat around the bed they had the feeling I was there and some words they
said to me I reacted to.
‘I think if my dad had agreed with them then I would have been off the life support machine in seconds.’
Accountant Mr Thorpe, 51, contacted
private GP Julia Piper, known for her work in traditional and
alternative medicines. Moved by their story, she asked a neurosurgeon
whom she knew to visit Steven at University Hospital in Coventry.
Incredibly, he concluded that Steven was not brain dead and that there was still a slim chance of recovery.
Doctors agreed to try to bring Steven
out of his chemically-induced coma to see if he could survive. Two weeks
later, he woke up.
He said: ‘It’s very worrying to think that more than one specialist had written me off.
‘Hopefully it can help people see that
you should never give up. If you have a gut feeling about something
then follow it. My father believed I was alive and he was correct.’
Savior: Steven with Dr Julia Piper who saved his life in Leicester. She made doctors take a second look at him before making the final decision to switch his life-support machine off
Life saving: General Practice in Leicester, run by Dr Piper
Steven, who has three sisters, has
lost the use of his left arm and has undergone extensive reconstructive
surgery to his face, including having his nose rebuilt and an artificial
eye socket made.
But despite his injuries, he says he considers survival as ‘a full recovery’.
He said the experience was still ‘too
painful’ for his parents to talk about, and yesterday Mr Thorpe told the
Daily Mail that he would rather ‘keep it in the past’.
Miracle: Steven after two operations on his face following the car crash in which another man died
Dr Piper, who has a practice in
Leicester, said: ‘As a parent, I wanted to help even if there was only
the smallest of chances. I spoke to the intensive care unit and told
them not to switch Steven’s machine off because we were bringing in our
‘I am astonished with the outcome but one worries that this may happen more often than we know.’
A spokesman for University Hospitals
Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: ‘The injury to Steven’s
brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed
almost irreversible damage.
‘It is extremely rare that a patient
with such extensive trauma to the brain should survive. We were
delighted to see Steven recover.’