Sleeping Pills May Wake Up PVS Patients, Terri Schiavo Family Optimistic
Researchers have made a serendipitous discovery: the sleeping pill Ambien can temporary awaken some "PVS" patients. The patients are able to talk with loved ones for hours before the effects of the medication wear off.
The pills were given to three patients. Two had suffered severe head injuries in car wrecks, and one had suffered brain damage from a near-drowning incident. The patients have been treated with the Ambien daily for several years.
One researcher called the effect "amazing to say the least," and noted that one patient even played catch with family members. The researcher, Ralf Clauss of Royal Surrey County Hospital, said the discovery was made when a restless PVS patient was given the sleeping pill, thinking it would have a calming effect. "Lo and behold, he woke up 15 minutes later. And so now we're using a sleeping drug to wake people up in the morning."
The family of Terri Schiavo, who was put to death for being in what some doctors called a Persistent Vegetative State, have called for a moratorium on all killing of PVS patients.
Meanwhile, Clauss is hoping for clinical trials, and for the development of a slow-release formula that will allow patients to become permanently awake.
This is not the first awakening of a patient supposedly in a PVA. In December of 2000, Patricia "Happi" White Bull was given Amantadine, a drug used to stimulate people with Parkinson's disease. She awoke from a 16-year coma.
Is it too much to ask that we focus on curing, rather than killing, folks with brain injuries?
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