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Real Life

REAL LIFE MIRACLE: "They were switching off my life support, then I woke up!"

Targe Hough was on his deathbed, when miraculously he opened his eyes.

By Brigid Auchettl
Super fit and healthy WA deckhand and aspiring big wave surfer Targe Hough was working out during his lunch hour 
15 months ago when he collapsed and was found unconscious after suffering a migraine.
Comparing the sensation to being like 
a pimple popping inside his head, scans discovered Targe had ruptured a blood vessel in his brain due to an arteriovenous malformation – a condition that affects less than one per cent of people.
Targe, 22, was rushed to 
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital 
in Perth, where he spent three days in a coma, and three weeks hooked up to life support, before doctors asked his family to consider turning off the machine.
"I had a choice that I can't remember making... I chose to stay and the very next day I opened my eyes," he says.
"I was definitely helped from God. People think 
I did all the work but it was a blessing that brought me back here."
Targe with his friend Cabe at Fiona Stanley Hospital Image: Supplied
His dad Graham says he made the heartbreaking decision to turn off the life support because doctors were concerned about Targe's quality of life, and he knew his son would not want to live if he was brain damaged.
"Targe and I used to surf in dangerous conditions all the time, so we'd had that chat – what we would do if something 
ever happened to us," says Graham.
"He said to me, 'If I'm not going to be right I don't want to come back.'"
When Graham returned to the hospital determined to carry out Targe's wishes, 
a new doctor advised him and his wife Deanne they should hold on for just a few more days because an abnormal test result sparked some hope.
With what the family believe was a miracle, Targe suddenly began to show signs of life, making small movements with his limbs.
The signs continued and four weeks later, he opened his eyes and began to come back from the brink.
It's a moment Graham says he will never forget.
"I was in the room reading to him when he woke up," he says, choking back tears.
"It was a really emotional time for the family – his outlook was so bleak, 
so to see him awake was very special."
Targe with his parents Deanne and Graham and brother Joshua. Image: Supplied
An aspiring big wave surfer at the time, Targe, from Harvey in WA, credits his fitness and ability to hold his breath for long periods of time for helping him survive the ordeal.
"Everything I was doing to get in 
shape for work and surfing is actually 
why I survived the catastrophic bleed," 
he says.
"I thought I was training for 
the surf but really I was preparing for 
the fight of my life."
But waking up was just the start of Targe's journey back, as doctors advised he'd likely never be able to walk again after losing the ability to sit up, see 
clearly and even talk.
"Waking up was like being reborn," he says.
"An occupational therapist showed me a photo of my brain and said the bleed was like a bomb had gone off in there. 
I had to learn everything again."
Targe is keen to hit the waves again! Image: Supplied
Full of determination, and backed by his family, Targe was up and walking within two months, thanks to the Rehab In The Home (RITH) program.
"After four months in hospital rehab 
I achieved standing for two minutes but after working with RITH for a few months I could finally walk," he says.
"The best feeling was walking back 
into the hospital where they'd told me 
I'd never walk again."
Keen to get back into the surf, 
Targe is working hard on his strength 
to make that happen, while also keeping 
his mind active by
writing a book 
about his incredible journey to share 
his inspirational story with others.
"I'm not sure where my life will go 
from here but I'm determined to help others, and one day I'm going to be paddling through the waves again," 
he promises.

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