Feel-Good Friday: Mother in a Coma for Five Years Wakes Up, Is Able to See Her Son Play Football



This Feel-Good Friday story is about miracles — something that we need to believe in right now. This week’s news has been particularly troubling, and many fear that our country is irretrievably lost. But if a mother can be resurrected from a coma when all hope was lost for her recovery, our country can be resurrected from the damage being done to it. The story of Jennifer Flewellen is meant to encourage us to never give up hope.

In 2017, Jennifer Flewellen, a mother of three, was driving on M139 in Niles, Michigan, when she lost control of her vehicle and collided with a utility pole on the side of the road. After being found unconscious at the scene, Flewellen was rushed to Lakeland Hospital, where doctors gave Flewellen’s family the tragic news: Jennifer was in a coma from which she would never awaken.

However, four years and 11 months later, in an unexpected moment, Flewellen beat the odds in the most beautiful way.

It’s a miracle — and it all started with a joke.

As Jennifer Flewellen, of Niles, Michigan, lay motionless in a hospital bed last year, stuck in a nearly five-year coma caused by a car crash, her mother Peggy Means told her a joke. Then the impossible happened: Flewellen, 41, laughed.

“When she woke up, it scared me at first because she was laughing and she had never done that,” Means tells PEOPLE. “Every dream came true. Today’s the day I said, ‘That door that was closed, that kept us apart, had just opened. We were back.'”

The August 2022 breakthrough was just the first step in a long battle for Flewellen, who is working hard to regain her speech and mobility after being in a cocoon state where time ceased as her brain slowly healed.  A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help buy a handicap van and home remodels.

“She woke up, but she didn’t completely. She couldn’t speak, but she was nodding,” Means, 60, says. “She would still sleep a lot right at first, but then as the months would go by, she would get stronger and be more awake.”

Fast forward to October of 2023, and Flewellen was able to attend the football night of her youngest son Julian, now 17.

Flewellen encouraged her three sons to take up sports, added Means.

“She said, ‘I don’t want my kids on the streets; I want them in sports’. And she really pushed them, and she was a big screamer. Everybody that knew Jenn, she was very loud. They (her kids) used to say, ‘I couldn’t even hear my coach, Mom; you were louder than the coach’.”

Flewellen’s story shows the power of a loving mother, and the power of family and community to facilitate this miracle.

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After a year of cognitive awareness and slow improvement, Flewellen was finally ready to enter into full rehabilitation in order to restore such things as speech, the ability to sit up by herself, and other areas to strengthen and improve her mental and physical functioning.  

Last month at the football game, her mom, Peggy Means, told us they’re throwing a Hail Mary to get Jenn into Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. It’s known as one of the best in the country. Started in 1891, Mary Free Bed has a celebrated history of helping people by offering affordable health care.

“She was accepted to go to Mary Free Bed,” said Peggy Means. “Tomorrow at 10 o’clock (a.m.), we’ll be leaving to get here there.

While Jenn has been awake from her coma since August of 2022, her mom tells us she wasn’t ready for intense physical therapy right away.

“She couldn’t get therapy back then because she wasn’t ready for it; I knew it was three hours a day, so I said we’re not going to try it too soon because you’ve got to be ready for it, but she’s ready now.”

Flewellen will have therapy four hours a day, including one hour of speech therapy. 

“Any accomplishment, I mean, to be able to sit up on her own, you know, small things that we all take for granted,” Means said. “And her speech; they’ll help with her speech. It’s frustrating for her, and it would be for all of us; you want to be able to interact with people. So, the ultimate goal is to walk, with so many more goals in between.”

So, if a woman can awaken from the damage of a car accident and five years of immobility, then America can be resurrected, even when it appears that all hope is lost.

You can see more of Jennifer Flewellen’s progress here.

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