Catatonic woman woke up from a 20-year state, leaving doctors baffled and astonishing those who hear her story. April Burrell, once unresponsive for over two decades, has reawakened, sparking a desire for understanding among both the medical community and the public.
But what happened to April Burrell?
April’s journey began in 1995 while she pursued her accounting studies at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Without warning, she fell into a catatonic state, rendering her unable to care for herself, recognize loved ones, or perform basic tasks. A diagnosis of severe schizophrenia led to her transfer to a mental hospital in New York.
According to sources, April Burrell, described as a thriving, healthy teenager without any notable mental distress, suddenly faced a devastating turn of events in 1995.
A phone call from one of her professors informed her family that she had been hospitalized, her state of incoherence raising deep concerns. To respect her privacy, The Washington Post didn’t disclose the precise nature of the traumatic experience she endured.
Following a few months at a short-term psychiatric hospital, April received a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Despite her family’s best efforts to support her, April’s condition necessitated constant care. In 2000, she transitioned to Pilgrim Psychiatric Center for long-term treatment.
Catatonia, a condition where individuals appear awake but demonstrate an apparent lack of awareness and responsiveness to their surroundings, can arise from various causes.
Catatonic Woman Woke Up After Almost Two Decades…
In 2000, Sander Markx, the director of precision psychiatry at Columbia University, encountered April as a student. She became his first patient, and her condition remained one of the most severe he had encountered.
When she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Sander Markx, then a promising medical student, made a fateful decision to join Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, NY, where he encountered April.
This encounter deeply impacted him, although he was unable to offer assistance at the time. Years later, another trainee informed Markx about a catatonic patient at the nurses’ desk, and to his astonishment, he realized it was April.
Despite undergoing various treatments over the years, including antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and electroconvulsive therapy, her condition remained unchanged.
In 2018, Dr. Markx made a groundbreaking discovery—alongside her schizophrenia, April also suffered from lupus, an autoimmune disorder capable of attacking the brain.
Following treatment for her condition and a series of cognitive assessments, the catatonic woman awakened suddenly in 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, it took until the previous year for her to finally reunite with her family. During the long-awaited reunion, she demonstrated recognition of her brother and possessed vivid childhood memories.
After visiting April with his wife and children, April’s brother Guy Burrell shared, “She was hugging me, she was holding my hand.” He wanted to throw a parade because he was so happy to see her like that.
Dr. Markx, moved by April’s transformation, aims to extend his assistance to other patients. He revealed to The Washington Post that other catatonic patients with autoimmune conditions exist.
He expressed that the notion that people are gone in these mental institutes and that they come back still has always stuck with him. A he continues to look for patients who could be awakened.
He emphasized that “These are the forgotten souls,”. He also added that they were not just improving the lives of these people, but bringing them back from a place that they could come back from.
While April’s story is undeniably remarkable, Dr. Markx remains eager to replicate her success in as many patients as possible, granting them a fresh lease on life.
April’s remarkable transformation serves as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for renewed life even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Share your thoughts in the comments below!