Vanja Gudac, a 43-year-old man from Croatia, ended up in a coma after eating a fig that got stuck in his throat and deprived his brain of oxygen. His family was devastated as they watched their idyllic life crumble in just a few seconds.
The first 15 days of Vanja’s coma were terrifying for his loved ones, with doctors telling them he would not survive. However, after that, they were asked when they would take him home. Vera Gudac, Vanja’s mother, compared him to a piece of furniture that had lost its purpose.
Despite being given up on by institutions, Vanja responds best to music, videos and audio messages. The biggest reward for his family is a wink and a handshake. His cousin Vlado Naglić believes that every video and picture he receives is soul food for Vanja and gives him hope for a better tomorrow.
Tatjana Popović Naglić wants everyone who has heard Vanja’s story to send messages of encouragement. She believes that these messages can stimulate the brain and help Vanja recover. Dnevnik Nova TV reporter Domagoj Mikić talked to Marina Raguž, a neurosurgeon at the Dubrava Clinical Hospital, who confirmed that messages can indeed stimulate the brain.
Raguž explained that patients should be encouraged to talk to their loved ones, play music and stimulate their minds in any way possible as it can help stimulate the brain. She added that several bizarre cases have been recorded in Croatia where deep brain stimulation has been used successfully in children who choked on pills or suffocated by blowing up balloons.
In order for someone to become a candidate for this method, they must meet neurophysiological, neuroradiological and clinical criteria. These criteria include testing whether there is a signal between the brain and periphery, assessing the patient’s condition and performing various radiological tests.
One patient who improved after being in a deep coma for over a year was also mentioned during the interview with Raguž. People like Vanja are on the margins of society and do not receive adequate care or experimental treatments like deep brain stimulation which could help them recover fully. It is important to establish large neurorehabilitation centers where such patients can receive proper care and experimental treatments can be carried out on them.
Vanja’s story serves as an example of how even seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome with determination and perseverance from both patients and medical professionals alike.
Overall Vanja’s story is one of hope against all odds; it shows us that even if we think we have reached our limits there may still be room for improvement through new technologies and methods.