Welcome Back, Donald

Have you heard the story of Donald Herbert, the New York firefighter who very suddenly — after almost ten years without speaking — sat up and said, “I want to talk to my wife”?

Donald had been very seriously injured in December, 1995, when the roof of a burning building collapsed and pinned him underneath. Experts estimated he was without oxygen for six minutes. Over the past ten years, Donald has been almost completely blind and struggling with rehabilitation. His memory was nearly completely gone; he was unable to recognize family and friends, and he had very little ability to communicate. In fact, simple monosyllable responses were all he could muster, and those were exceedingly infrequent. Until Saturday.

On Saturday, Donald suddenly came to life. He sat up and told a member of the nursing staff that he wanted to talk to his wife. When they called his house for him, his 13-year-old son answered the phone. “Impossible,” thought Donald, “he’s not old enough to talk.” Donald spent the next 14 hours talking almost incessantly and was up most of the night visiting with his family and friends with whom he had been suddenly reacquainted. Some of them he recognized by their voices, even though he hadn’t remembered hearing them for a decade.

Doctors are a little baffled. Though these cases are extremely rare, they do happen, often without any known impetus. People do sometimes emerge from the most remarkable situations and, in some cases like Donald, show little signs that anything was ever wrong.

Welcome back, Donald. I’m thrilled for you and your family. May God continue to bless and keep you.