A mother vividly recounts the day her comatose daughter began laughing at a joke after five years. 

In 2017, Jennifer’s life took a dramatic turn after a car accident. She felt lightheaded on her way to work, veered off the road and hit a pole. Rushing to her bedside, her mum Peggy faced the grim reality of her daughter’s serious condition. “From there everything changed,” she said.

Doctors weren’t optimistic about Jennifer’s chances, but Peggy remained steadfast, rejecting suggestions to remove the life support. “They encouraged me, by like day two or three, to take her off life support. I said we’re not going to do that. And then each day, they encouraged me more, and I’d say no it’s in God’s hands.”

Despite warnings, Peggy tirelessly advocated for her daughter’s care, negotiating with treatment centres and insurers. She visited Jennifer every day for five years while balancing a full-time job. “I’d tell her what her kids are doing, what we’ve been doing, and I tried to encourage her,” she said.

Without any signs of improvement and facing bleak odds, Peggy said she just took each day as it came. Then, one day in August 2022, Peggy took her daughter outside to talk to her in the sunshine.

In August 2022, during their routine outdoor chat, Jennifer surprised Peggy by laughing at a joke. To Peggy’s surprise, Jennifer laughed at one of her jokes. “I started to wheel her up to the building, and then I thought, she’s laughing, so I stopped and got my phone out,” she recalled. Jennifer slipped back into the coma after but Peggy persevered. Taking her daughter outside over the next few days where she experienced more brief flashes of consciousness.

She could not speak but was able to understand Peggy and communicate by nodding or shaking her head. Initially sceptical, the medical team acknowledged the unusual progress after viewing videos of Jennifer’s lucid moments.

After weeks of speech therapy, Jennifer started re-learning how to communicate. Less than one year after waking up from her coma Jennifer went home to live with her mum full-time. Peggy was able to retire and become her daughter’s full-time carer.

Jennifer and Peggy remained determined with hours of speech therapy, occupational therapy and upcoming surgeries ahead of them. “We have a lot of work to do still, so we stay busy. I want her to walk. I want everything, as much as possible, and we don’t know what’s possible, so we just have to keep doing it,” Peggy said.