Brain-damaged firefighter speaks after 10 years

.- On Saturday, Buffalo firefighter Donald Herbert, who has been in what many might call a persistent vegetative state for nearly ten years, suddenly began to talk.

In December of 1995, Herbert suffered severe brain damage when a roof collapsed on him while fighting a fire. Since then, he has been unable to carry on any meaningful conversation, recognize loved ones or see.

On Saturday, he began asking the nursing home staff where his wife and children were. When asked by a relative how he felt, Herbert replied, “I feel great.”

Advocates of Terri Schiavo, who died of a court-ordered starvation in March, are pointing to the Herbert case as evidence that she should have been given a chance to live.

Yesterday, The Buffalo News cited University of Buffalo professor Dr. Michael A. Meyer who said that although rare, cases like Herbert’s are encouraging.

"After that many years,” he said, “it's unusual to see that dramatic a change, but we do hear about it anecdotally."

Family members are thrilled, but cautious while doctors are anxious to follow Herbert’s progress in the coming weeks.

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