A Kansas woman severely brain-injured after an accident in 2002 has begun speaking – to the amazement of her doctor.

Tracy Gaskill. Photo: Ark City Traveler.

On Sept. 3, 2002, Tracy Gaskill suffered critical internal and head injuries when her pickup overturned. Doctors told her relatives that night that she probably would die by noon the next day, her grandfather, Don Gaskill, told the Ark City Traveler.

“That accident scared us to death,” Gaskill said. Both Gaskill and his granddaughter hail from rural Winfield, Kan.

According to the report, the Gaskill family and many others in the Cowley County community prayed for Tracy regularly since the accident, and she had daily visits.

Not only did Tracy live beyond the day after the accident, she gradually began to improve.

Then, about three weeks ago, she spoke for the first time since the accident, about the same time she began to swallow on her own.

Terri Schiavo before her disability.

Previous to that she was fed via a feeding tube, similar to Floridian Terri Schiavo, who died in March of starvation and dehydration after the court-ordered removal of her nourishment.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Dr. David Schmeidler told the local paper. “I have never seen this happen in my career. I’ve read about it happening, the severely brain damaged recovering suddenly, but never seen it – until now.”

Continued Schmeidler: “She is actually able to speak and to speak coherently. In light of all this stuff on Terri Schiavo … it makes you pause and think. For three years or so, (Tracy) was fed through a tube, then she swallowed a little bit and now she speaks.”

Lynda Marshall is a registered nurse who has worked with Tracy.

“It’s really quite amazing (that Tracy can speak),” she told the Traveler. “After they’ve been without speech and the ability to eat that long, it’s very rare they’re able to come back.”

Marshall said Tracy will get speech therapy, continue working on improving cognitive functions and eat on her own.

Tracy received what Schiavo did not – at least in the last several years – therapy.

According to the report, in the last few months, nurses worked with her to get her to hum. Eventually, she started to speak clearly.

Asked how old she was, Tracy reportedly answered, “Twenty-nine.”

“You’re 30,” her grandfather corrected her. “Remember, you had another birthday.”

Last week, it was reported Donald Herbert awoke from a coma and spoke for the first time in 10 years. A Buffalo, N.Y., firefighter, Herbert was severely brain injured while fighting a fire in 1995.

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