Cheated death, but brain can’t remember
John Kirkwood at his home office in New York. A computer image of his brain on his computer screen shows where there is activity and where there is none.
December 5th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Cheated death, but brain can’t remember

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @SKastenbaumCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(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.”

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. 20sandi12

    I agree; I am a total stranger and I would truly appreciate getting to know more about the successful journey of this courageous man.

    December 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pat Lyford

    It was soooo wonderful to hear John in this interview. Being a friend of the family and knowing John's situation from day 1, I am overwhelmed by his progress. Way to go John ! We will surely be hearing more from this amazing man.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |