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In a Coma Since Accident, Teen Doesn't Know About Pandemic

Family isn't sure how to tell what's happened since last March
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2021 5:20 PM CST

(Newser) – A teenager in the UK has had the coronavirus twice but doesn't know it. Joseph Flavill has been in a coma since he was hit by a car March 1 while walking in the town of Burton upon Trent, suffering a traumatic brain injury. That was three weeks before the nation's first pandemic lockdown. Now that he's beginning to come out of the coma, his family is wrestling with how to tell him what's happened since his accident, the Guardian reports. "I just don’t know where to start with it," his aunt said, adding, "I've got no idea how Joseph's going to come to understand what we've all been through." That includes two bouts of the coronavirus for the 19-year-old, caught while in the coma, from which he's recovered. His family members try to explain to him over the phone that they want to be in his room, "holding his hands," but can't be because of the pandemic. Only his mother has been able to visit, fully covered in protective equipment.

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When he fully emerges from the coma in his room, his aunt says, "he’s not going to have any idea why he's there." The first sign of improvement came recently as the teenager smiled when played an audio recording made in a plane's cockpit. Next, he blinked on a Zoom call when another relative mentioned a pasty, the Cornish pastry, per CNN. "Did you blink on purpose?" she asked, and he blinked twice. Since then, he's moved his limbs and laughed at jokes. He's been moved from a hospital to a care center, and soon he'll be able to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Among the events Flavill missed was receiving the Duke of Edinburgh youth achievement award, an honor that was scheduled for Buckingham Palace last May. "When he comes out of this, life will not be as he knows it at all," his aunt said. "How do you describe it?" (Read more coma stories.)

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