By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
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(CNN) – What if you lost the ability to create new memories? It happened to John Kirkwood.
The 42 year old environmental engineer from New York miraculously survived a catastrophic brain injury, an aneurism, and blood clot in his head.
After coming out of a coma, he no longer had vision on his left side and there was no activity in the regions of his brain responsible for recording new memories.
He spent years creating work-arounds and teaching his brain to remember things in a new way.
[:18] “I couldn’t understand where I was in space and time. I could not perceive what I had done in the past and I was just living in the present in an environment that I did not understand visually or through taste and smell,” said Kirkwood.
[3:28] “It was difficult to come to terms with your past being basically ripped away from you in a way that you know that you can’t function that way any more and you are a different person. A portion of you has died.”