Tomasz, who had a brain stimulator implanted by a team headed by Prof. Maksymowicz (Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWM) and Aleksandra Janczarska (daughter of the actress Ewa Błaszczyk) are the first patients to be woken from comas. Waking them has been a world-wide success.
Supervised by experts from Japan, physicians of the University Hospital in Olsztyn carried out their first experimental operation of waking coma patients by implanting brain stimulators in them. Among the four people operated on was the daughter of the actress Ewa Błaszczyk. Another three people were operated on in July. One of them was 35-year-old Tomasz. He fell into coma earlier this year, on 13 May. He was sitting on a low wall with a friend who had an epileptic seizure. Tomasz tried to catch him and fell 3 metres down onto concrete. He woke up 2 weeks after the surgery. This is a great hope for the other patients and their families.
‘The patients started to follow simple instructions a few days ago. Now he talks’, said Prof. Wojciech Maksymowicz, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of UWM. ‘We are satisfied with the success and the effects of the surgery, but the patient is miserable. Only now has he become aware of what happened and it has affected him greatly. He can’t move his legs or arms’.
‘Tomas is going to remain in Olsztyn where he will go through rehabilitation. He will also need support from a psychotherapist, which he will get’, said Prof. Maksymowicz.
The state of consciousness has also improved in 37-year-old Mariusz, a Polish Press Agency journalist, who was also operated on in July. He had a bicycle accident last year, after which he fell into coma.
‘The patient does not speak because his speech centre is damaged. However, he has used his laptop to play video games during his stay in hospital – explains Prof. Maksymowicz.
Doctors of the University Hospital talk of the full recovery of Aleksandra Janczarska, Ewa Błaszczyk’s daughter. In her case, an improvement was achieved, but it was not as great as in the other patients.
‘This is a consequence of her being in a coma for 16 years. Her brain is deeply damaged as a result of a lack of oxygen after she choked on water. The prognosis is usually not good in such patients. From the medical point of view, waking a patient is not a consciousness-related issue, but rather one connected with the function of higher centres, which are certainly damaged – informed Dr Monika Barczewska, Deputy Head of the Neurosurgery Clinic at the University Hospital.
Positive effects of the operation were also felt by other patients. Doctors informed about them during a press conference on 19 July, two months after the first surgeries.
The University Hospital in Olsztyn is the first medical facility in Europe to have implemented brain stimulators to patients in coma. The cost of one device ranges from 50 to 80 thousand zlotys. Currently, there are over 130 patients whose families have applied for the opportunity to have a surgery at the University Hospital in Olsztyn. More surgeries are planned for this year.