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Nigel Smith speaks of locked-in syndrome 'horror'

24th November 2009

The case of German student Rom Houben, who spent more than two decades trapped in a coma, sparked 'recognition and creeping horror' in a British writer.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Houben was conscious throughout the 23 years that he was thought to have been in a persistent vegetative state.

Houben developed locked-in syndrome after a car crash and it was not until 2006 that doctors realised his brain was functioning almost fully. They have now developed a computer to enable him to communicate.

Writing in the Daily Mail, I Think There's Something Wrong With Me author Nigel Smith said he understands what Houben means when he says 'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear'.

Smith explained that he was rushed to hospital eight years ago after suffering a lesion on his brain, which left him unable to communicate with the outside world.

The writer revealed that he could feel doctors performing invasive medical procedures on him, but was completely unable to respond for around three months.

'Can you imagine being frozen like that in agonised consciousness for 23 years? It doesn't bear thinking about,' he added.

Locked-in syndrome sufferer Jean-Dominique Bauby published The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly in 1997, after painstakingly writing the book letter by letter by blinking as the alphabet was read out by an assistant.

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