A Canadian man who was believed to have been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, has been able to tell scientists that he is not in any pain.
It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care.
Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine.
His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting.
There is abundant evidence that many patients in "Persistent Vegetative State" are aware and have complex mental states, despite being unable to communicate.
The diagnosis of PVS needs to be abandoned, because it is unreliable and it consigns a vulnerable group of severely brain-injured patients to neglect, abandonment, and even killing by starvation.
People with severe brain damage are fully human beings and persons, and should be treated with respect and compassion, with the assumption that they are aware of their surroundings and that they have internal mental states.
May we never do to another handicapped person what we did to Terri Schiavo.