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Martin Pistorius: 'Ghost Boy' Trapped in Vegetative State Describes Journey to Recovery in First TV Interview

( [email protected] ) Jan 29, 2015 06:41 PM EST

Joanna and Martin Pistorius
Joanna and Martin Pistorius are looking to start a family soon. Photo: Dailymail

Two weeks ago, we brought you the story of the young boy who awoke from a vegetative state after several years, but in his first American television appearance, Martin Pistorius describes the mental and physical pain he endured growing up in a world in which no one thought he'd return.

Talking with NBC's Kate Snow, Pistorius described his journey from perfectly normal to completely helpless, and back again. "For so many years, I was like a ghost. I could hear and see everything, but it was like I wasn't there. I was invisible," he said during the interview through the use of a computer that speaks what he types. 

The problems started when Martin was 12 years old. He came home from school one day complaining of a sore throat, but never returned. His illness became increasingly more severe as he lost his appetite, ability to talk, and soon, his ability to walk or move.

After several years of tests, doctors couldn't diagnose the problems and soon told Martin's parents that they needed to just bring him home to die. But his parents cared for him as much as they could, bringing him to day care centers while they worked. And that's where Martin's real problems began.

"It was terrifying at times," he said. "What really got to me was the complete and utter powerlessness. Every single aspect of your life is controlled and determined by someone else. They decided where you are, what you eat, whether you sit or lie down, in what position you lie in, everything."

In his new book, entitled "Ghost Boy: My Escape From A Life Locked Inside My Own Body," Pistorius describes some of the unspeakable abuse and turture he endured while remaining completely helpless. "There was never a care home that I was in where there wasn't some degree of abuse. Even if it didn't [happen] to me, I witnessed it happening to others," he said.

But after several years of hiding inside of his own mind to mask the pain, Martin began to wake up in 2001, thanks to the awareness of one caregiver who recommended he start responsive treatment at the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

"She was the catalyst who changed everything. Had it not been for her, I would probably either be dead or forgotten in a care home somewhere," he said during the interview.


Martin's life truly reached a turning point when he met his current wife, Joanna, in 2008. They met through Martin's sister and communicated for the first time through Skype. "(He) had such a nice smile and I just thought he's really attractive," Joanna recalled. "He seemed like such a kind person."

While the two had originally planned to not have children after their 2009 wedding, they're now hoping to start a family. And through it all, Martin has remained optimistic and grateful for life's simple things that he may have taken for granted otherwise.

"Life can change so quickly, too, that it is good to appreciate what you have in this moment," he added.

But the man's faith in God has been a big part of his recovery and optimistic view, thanks to his wife. He mentioned in a previous interview that his wife is the one who taught him to understand the meaning of the Bible verse in 1 Corinthians 13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

And he has some faith-based advice of his own for everyone who hears his message: "Treat everyone with kindness, dignity, compassion and respect - irrespective of whether you think they understand or not. Never underestimate the power of the mind, the importance of love and faith, and never stop dreaming."