A teenager in England has woken up from a coma and he has no idea about the Covid-19 pandemic, despite having caught the virus on two occasions.
Joseph Flavill, 19, was hit by a car in Burton Upon Trent on March 1 last year, three weeks before the UK went into lockdown.
He has spent months in a coma after suffering a traumatic brain injury but has woken up and is slowly starting to respond to the world around him.
His aunt, Sally Flavill Smith discussed the extraordinary situation with The Guardian.
“He won’t know anything about the pandemic as he’s been asleep for 10 months. His awareness is starting to improve now but we just don’t know what he knows.”
“I just don’t know where to start with it. A year ago if someone had told me what was going to happen over the last year, I don’t think I would have believed it. I’ve got no idea how Joseph’s going to come to understand what we’ve all been through.”
She has said that the family have tried explaining over video call to Joseph why they can’t be in the hospital with him, but haven’t fully explained the magnitude of the pandemic to him yet.
“When he’s awake in his room, he’s not going to have any idea why he’s there. We do talk about it on the phone, and we try to make him aware that we really want to be there holding his hands, but we’re just unable to do it” (because of Covid).
The family want to wait until they can have face-to-face contact with Joseph to explain what has happened in the past 10 months.
“But we try to keep it as simple as possible, we don’t really have the time to go into the pandemic hugely – it just doesn’t feel real does it? When he can actually have the face-to-face contact, that will be the opportunity to actually try to explain to him what has happened.”
Joseph has been able to interact with friends and family by blinking and smiling. He is able to move his limbs and follow simple instructions like touching his ears.
Discussing his road to recovery, his aunt said “We’ve still got a long journey ahead, but the steps he’s made in the last three weeks have been absolutely incredible.”
Despite not knowing about the pandemic, Joseph has manage to contract the virus on two occasions, which makes this story even more astonishing as it is unusual to catch the virus twice.
Joseph’s mother, Sharon, was able to visit her son on his 19th birthday last December. She had to maintain social distancing measures and wear full PPE.
His aunt said “At that point, Joseph wasn’t as aware as he is now, and I think she felt incredibly sad because she wasn’t sure that Joseph could even see who she was. She’d been waiting for months to be able to go and see him.”
Before the accident, Joseph was a sporty and active teenager. He was due to receive his Duke of Edinburgh award in May, which is similar to Ireland’s Gaisce award.
The family has raised over £30,000 to support his long term recovery after his coma and more information about this campaign can be found here.
Photo credit: Flavill Family.