Life After a Coma

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Decatur, Illinois – Imagine waking up with no recollection of what happened the last month of your life. That’s what happened when Tyler Malek came out of a coma nearly six years ago.

“One doctor came out, and we said, 'Can you give us an update? What’s going on?' They said pray.  So that was the beginning of a rough time,” says his mother, Michelle Malek.

May 2010, Tyler was hit head on by an SUV going 40 miles per hour.  Shortly after – his parents took a call from police.

“I was like ok, picked it up and I am like, ‘hey what’s up?’ He’s like, ‘Tyler was hit by a car. I just froze up, my life just stopped,” says his father, Jeff Malek.

Tyler was air-lifted to the hospital. His lungs collapsed.

His father says, “It was like 72 hours and it was still touch and go. They didn’t know if he was going to make it or not.”

“They let me clean his wounds when he was stable enough in the hospital room. They were like, here you can do something, because they knew I watched every monitor” says his mother.

The parents slept at bedside, waiting for something, anything.

His mom says, “the doctor came to us and said. “I never say this in medicine, but he’s going to make it.”

“The doctor was yelling his name over and over. We didn’t understand why he wasn’t waking up, and why we couldn’t hear him – and to just open his eyes -- so when he finally did, it was great” says Jeff.

“We were just sitting there talking and his eyes just opened up a month later” says Tyler.

A traumatic brain injury, feeding and draining tubes – his spleen removed and metal rods in his legs – twenty surgeries later – he weighed just 92 pounds.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was skin and bones, no muscle or anything. Just pretty sad” says Tyler.

The rehabilitation process was long and painful. Tyler had to learn to eat, and write all over again. He eventually took his first steps.

“To see his stand and take those steps again it was wonderful” says Tyler.

Years later – he gained the weight back. The former high school football player says he’s showing the world that with every rep, every set, the accident will not define him.

“I had the right mindset. You have to get back to normal. I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life sad about my accident” says Tyler.

His father told him, “You need to pick up other sports. We talked about weightlifting, fishing and golfing. Those are the sports you will play the rest of your life or be involved in. That’s when he took up weightlifting.”

A freshman at Mizzou, he’s training for his first bodybuilding competition.

“I want to win this and I really just want to do this just to show people you can do it. Nothing is limiting you.”

He’s pushing his body to the limit and has the scars to prove it.

“He’s a living miracle. I mean to be that close to death and come back, and just try to remain positive and do the best with his life” says his mother.

Tyler says he received straight A’s last semester, and plans to study pharmaceuticals.

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