A pensioner has overcome all the odds and amazed doctors by recovering from an illness which left him completely paralysed from head to toe.
Graham Miles, who felt he had been “left to die” by medical staff, was suffering from ‘locked-in syndrome’ after having a massive stroke.
But now the resilient 66-year-old is walking and talking, and has even taken up motor racing as a hobby.
Critics say this case raises serious questions about assisted suicide and the assumption that completely paralysed patients can never recover.
Alistair Thompson, spokesman for pro-life group Care Not Killing, said Mr Miles’ case highlighted why assisted suicide should not be legalised.
He said: “This has been our argument again and again – the fact that someone has a disability does not mean that they will not improve.
“It is a myth that people stay the same and often people do get better. This is the strongest reason to stop the legalising of assisted suicide.”
Mr Miles said: “Initially I had a job to do, and that was to breathe because, although the involuntary muscles still work, such as the heart and the lungs, the chest is paralysed so there’s a resistance to breathing”.
“You have to quickly work out that you have to concentrate on the diaphragm to get effective breathing. That was the initial problem.
“Moving my eyelids was my only method of communication at first.
After a couple of months Mr Miles started getting his voice back, and little by little he began to regain movement in his face and body over the following months.
He said within weeks he was “left to die” by medical staff and tried to communicate his concerns with his family using a spelling board.
He remarked, “the prognosis was either death or living death as a vegetable”.
Mr Miles, a father of two, credited his recovery to tapping into the “extra capacity” of the brain.
“If you are totally focused, you’ve got sufficient drive, commitment and mental stamina, you can break down that barrier between the brain and the body that goes with total paralysis,” he said.
There have been a number of recent cases of locked-in syndrome sufferers recovering against the odds and accusing doctors of giving up on them.
Earlier this month a mother of two revealed how she never lost her will to live after an illness left her paralysed and unable to speak for 18 months.
Kerry Pink was left suffering from locked-in syndrome by an undiagnosed neurological illness when she was just 35.
Mrs Pink, writing in the Daily Mail, said: “My memories are blurred. But some things remain absolutely certain. I know that however dark the twilight world I inhabited, I never lost my will to live.”
Mrs Pink spoke of the terrifying moment she heard her doctors advising her husband that she wouldn’t make it through.
She said: “I remember a flash of abject terror, then anger. I clearly recall thinking: ‘How dare they say I’m not going to pull through.'”
Mrs Pink is now able to walk a few steps and has recovered all of her speech.
And, with the help of her family or a carer, she is able to socialise and visit shops, pubs and restaurants.
Her comments came after Richard Rudd, who currently suffers from locked-in syndrome, used eye movements to signal to doctors that he wanted to live as they were about to switch off his life support machine.
Mrs Pink said that she wanted to show Mr Rudd that it “is worth battling on”.