An Alabama man who has lived in a persistent vegetative state for 23 years recently turned 50. Doctors believe that he could survive to the age of 70 or 75. Joey Adkins went into a coma in 1981 following an operation on his vertebrae. After a lawsuit, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital agreed to care for him in perpetuity. According to an article in the Birmingham News, he has been superbly nursed — he has never had a bedsore, his teeth are cleaned and physiotherapy keeps his muscles from atrophying. Doctors maintain that he is unconscious but his 78-year-old father says that he detects signs of responsiveness. He visited daily until his own health failed, but he still phones regularly and gets a nurse to place the phone at his son’s ear. Joey’s siblings are less dedicated, but say that they would not agree to remove his feeding tube.
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