Take Not One Year for Granted

Sunday, February 13, 2005

As a family tries to save the life of their brain-damaged daughter, Terri Schiavo -- who's been in a vegetative state for 15 years -- from her creepy husband trying to pull the plug, an inspirational story emerges from Kansas about a girl who can talk for the first time in 20 years.

From the Associated Press:

For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her — the victim of a drunken driver who struck her down as she walked to her car. Today, after a remarkable recovery, she can talk again.

Sarah Scantlin was an 18-year-old college freshman on Sept. 22, 1984, when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked to her car after celebrating with friends at a teen club. That week, she had been hired at an upscale clothing store and won a spot on the drill team at Hutchinson Community College.

After two decades of silence, she began talking last month. Doctors are not sure why. On Saturday, Scantlin's parents hosted an open house at her nursing home to introduce her to friends, family members and reporters.

A week ago, her parents got a call from Jennifer Trammell, a licensed nurse at the Golden Plains Health Care Center. She asked Betsy Scantlin if she was sitting down, told her someone wanted to talk to her and switched the phone to speaker mode:

"Hi, Mom."

"Sarah, is that you?" her mother asked.

"Yes," came the throaty reply.

"How are you doing?"


"Do you need anything," her mother asked her later.

"More makeup."

Scantlin started talking in mid-January but asked staff members not to tell her parents until Valentine's Day to surprise them, Trammell said. But last week she could not wait any longer to talk to them.

On Saturday, her brother asked whether she knew what a CD was. Sarah said she did, and she knew it had music on it.

But when he asked her how old she was, Sarah guessed she was 22. When her brother gently told her she was 38 years old now, she just stared silently back at him. The nurses say she thinks it is still the 1980s.
Can you imagine what must have been going through Sarah's mind when she was told that she had slept through the best years of her life; from just entering adulthood to now at mid-life? Imagine a 20 year gap in your mind and looking at the technology that has progressed in such a long period of time.

It's a touching story for the family who's been reunited with their daughter, but another family is fighting for that same chance in Florida. Currently the courts are not on her side but perhaps this case will change the minds of those who wouldn't have seen Sarah as a person worthy of life.