Voiceless Hope

Martin Pistorius was born in South Africa in 1975. When he was 12 years old, he began developing symptoms that the doctors were unable to diagnose. At first, he was unable to move. Later, he slipped into a vegetative state. His doctors did not expect him to live and so advised his parents not to have hope.

Martin was taken home and cared for by professionals during the day and his father at night. What no one knew at the time was that Martin could hear and understand what family and others were saying, even though he was unconscious.

Four years after he was taken home to die, Martin began to regain consciousness. It was like he was being born again. Three years later, he regained full consciousness but wasn’t able to get others to be aware of this. The movements he made were not seen by others.

Eventually, there was recognition that he had become conscious. He was sent to a specialty clinic which confirmed that he was aware, but he was still not able to communicate. He made a breakthrough when his parents gave him a computer with specialized software.

He began to regain some bodily functions but still needed a computer to speak. When Martin was 33, he met his future wife. Nine years later, Martin and his wife announced they were pregnant.

Martin was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science and now works as a freelance web designer.

Martin Pistorius is a strong story of hope over reason. His parents never gave up hope. Just imagine how you would feel being able to hear and understand what others were saying but being unable to respond. How would you feel if the doctors gave you no hope, but you had no ability to show otherwise?

The story of Martin Pistorius can be the story of many young people when society says there is no hope for their recovery. While these young people may have the voice to respond, will we listen? And more importantly, who will be the one to nurture and care for them?

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“Treat everyone with kindness, dignity, compassion, and respect, irrespective of whatever you think they understand or not.”– Martin Pistorius

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