In 2008, jazz pianist Fred Hersch slipped into an AIDS-related coma for more than two months. When he came out of the coma, he couldn't walk, eat or play piano. Hersch explains how he rebuilt himself after his illness and composed music for his latest album, Whirl.
Richard Powers recently won the National Book Award for his book The Echo Maker. Part mystery and part science, the novel is about a 27-year-old man who falls into a coma after a car crash and wakes up with a rare brain disorder. Powers' previous books include The Gold Bug Variations and The Time of Our Singing.
Joseph and Julia Quinlan. They are the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan. Joseph Quinlan died this past Saturday at the age of 71. A lawyer for the family said the cause was bone cancer. He and his wife became early pioneers in the "right to die" debate" after they fought for the legal authority to remove a respirator that their daughter was attached to after doctors said she had no hope of coming out of a coma. She then lived nine more years.
Allende's first work of non-fiction, "Paula," is now a bestseller in paperback. The book was inspired when her 28 year old daughter fell into an irreversible coma. It began as a letter to her dying daughter and turned into an autobiographical work telling of life from Allende's childhood in Chile to her exile in Venezuela and her move to San Francisco. Publisher's Weekly says, "Only a writer of Allende's passion and skill could share her tragedy with her readers and leave them exhilarated and grateful." (ORIGINALLY BROADCAST 5/1/95)
Joseph and Julia Quinlan. They are the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan. It's been twenty years since the New Jersey State Supreme Court issued it's landmark decision (March 31, 1976) allowing their comatose daughter to be removed from a ventilator. She then lived nine more years. The Quinlans wrote about Karen in the book "Karen Ann: The Quinlans Tell Their Story," (Doubleday-1977). In 1980 they used the proceeds from the book to open the Karen Ann Quinlan Center of Hope Hospice in Newton, New Jersey. (201)383-0115
Allende has published her first work of non-fiction, Paula. It's about her 28 year old daughter, who fell into an irreversible coma. Paula began as a letter to her dying daughter and turned into an autobiographical work about Allende's childhood in Chile, her exile in Venezuela and her move to San Francisco.
Writer Mary Kay Blakely. In 1984, shortly after a divorce, a recent diagnosis of diabetes, the suicide of a brother and a series of missed deadlines in her job as a journalist, Blakely collapsed into a coma. The coma lasted nine days, and when Blakely awoke, she saw the coma as a signal that the crush of commitments and societal pressures had overwhelmed her body, that "the life she planned no longer fit the woman she had become." Blakely writes about her journey back from her coma and her decision to redirect her life in her book Wake Me When It's Over.