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Book and Media Reviews
February 27, 2008

The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up: A True Story

JAMA. 2008;299(8):959-960. doi:10.1001/jama.299.8.959

I first heard of Don Herbert when a New York Times reporter called about a Buffalo firefighter who had “awakened” nearly 10 years after sustaining a severe brain injury. It was early May 2005, weeks after the conclusion of the Terri Schiavo saga and potentially big news. If Don Herbert could recover, why couldn't Terri Schiavo?

It is against this backdrop that most readers will frame Rich Blake's The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up: A True Story, though Herbert was different than Schiavo. She had anoxic brain injury after a cardiac arrest and remained permanently vegetative for 15 years. He sustained what was primarily a traumatic brain injury with an uncertain degree of hypoxia after being injured in a house fire in late December 1995.