PHOENIX — It will be a special Christmas for the family of a 21-year-old University of Arizona student who was nearly taken off life support before awaking from a coma.
Sam Schmid was walking and speaking Friday at a Phoenix hospital. Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers, he was able to use a walker and talk in brief sentences.
"Right now, I'm feeling all right .. except for the rehabilitation, I'm feeling pretty good," Schmid said.
Doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute say Schmid has a long recovery ahead of him to regain full speech, balance and memory abilities.
Schmid was involved in an Oct. 19 car crash in Tucson that left him with a brain aneurysm, among other life-threatening injuries. Because of the complexity of his brain injury, Schmid was flown to Phoenix.
He underwent surgery performed by Dr. Robert Spetzler. With no responsive signs, staff discussed taking Schmid off life support.
"They never approached me to say would I donate his organs," said Susan Regan, Schmid's mother. "The people that were surrounding us were just asking about Sam, his quality of life, what would Sam want if we had to come to a difficult decision."
Spetzler said Schmid was never officially classified as a potential organ donor. And after an MRI scan showed he wasn't at a point of no hope of survival, Spetzler recommended keeping him alive for one more week.
Then on Oct. 24, Schmid shocked doctors by following commands to hold up two fingers.
"It may not seem like a lot to you," Spetzler said. "It's an incredible loop to show brain ability. That was like fireworks going off."