Three years ago new high-tech scans revealed that his brain was functioning normally.
His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who ‘saved’ him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.
‘Medical advances caught up with him,’ said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.
Dr Laureys’s new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed.
‘Anyone who bears the stamp of “unconscious” just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,’ he said.
The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben’s brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging.
He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world.
Mr. Houben is able to communicate via computer and is able to read books. This case demonstrates how subjective a diagnosis of persistent vegetative state sometimes is and how horribly wrong doctors can be. Thank God no relative was pushing to have him put to death through dehydration and starvation. The position of the Church of course is crystal clear: the right to life of those labeled as in a persistent vegetative state is just as inviolable as my right to life or your right to life.