MORGANTOWN, W.VA. Sago Mine survivor Randal McCloy Jr. appears to be awakening from his coma, and his improving condition may allow him to be transferred to a rehabilitation center within a few weeks, doctors said Wednesday.
McCloy, 26, has been breathing on his own for days and is opening his eyes, said Dr. Julian Bailes of West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital, adding that he "has purposeful movement" and "is responding to his family in slight ways."
Bailes said doctors now consider McCloy to be in a "light coma."
McCloy is believed to have suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen, but the extent of the damage is not yet known.
Because of the amount of time he spent in the mine before being rescued, "we are in many ways in uncharted territory with predicting his recovery," said Bailes, a neurosurgeon. "Many people with severe carbon monoxide poisoning end up with severe cognitive, personality, memory, visual and motor responses. We just don't know."
McCloy has been unconscious since he was pulled from the mine more than 41 hours after the Jan. 2 explosion that led to the deaths of 12 other miners. Officials have said one miner was apparently killed by the blast itself, and the others were asphyxiated.
McCloy was moved out of intensive care Tuesday but remains on dialysis because of kidney damage.