Don’t turn off life support machines because your child may just wake up regardless of doctors

The boy who came back from the dead: Experts said car crash teen was beyond hope. His parents disagreed

Steven Thorpe awoke from 2-week coma after car crash that killed a man
His devastated parents were even asked to consider donating his organs
Doctors found signs of life only after his father begged them to recheck him

By Louise Eccles
PUBLISHED: 10:41, 24 April 2012 | UPDATED: 01:55, 25 April 2012

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 donations”.

‘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.’

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’.

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 own specialist.

‘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.’

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