Claire Wineland Reveals the Secrets of Comas


ABC News

Claire Wineland shares her story after being in a coma for 2 weeks

At the age of 13, Claire Wineland fell into a coma after complications with a routine surgery. Her parents were told that there was a one percent chance she would survive. Three weeks later Claire woke up and shared her experience about what it was like in her deep sleep.

Claire was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease caused by a mutation of the gene called CFTR; This gene controls the flow of fluids and salt in and out of blood. If CFTR doesn’t work, mucus starts to build up in the body, which causes trouble breathing and pain in the body. 

After being in a medically induced coma for three weeks, Claire shared what she remembered from her time in the coma. 

“Everything that happens in a real world, you hear, you’re aware of,” shared Claire,“But everything goes through these ‘weird’ filters in your brain, which are actually drugs. Then, it turns into something else once it hits your consciousness.” 

Claire shared an example of her experience when she heard her step-mom and home nanny talking during a visit. Claire could hear everything they were saying, but in her head they were in a girl’s log cabin camp, and they were gossiping about one of the other girls. 

In reality they were talking about one of the nurses and what she had said. What’s weirder, in her head, Claire talked back to them, but no one could hear her.

Sometimes, doctors would put Claire in an uncomfortable position, and her brain would make up a story about why she was in those positions. At one point Claire was laying upside down, and in her head she was hanging from her foot which was stuck in a hammock. She was just hanging there upside down without any ability to move, which frustrated her; But logic didn’t work at that time. 

Claire fondly reminisces on her hallucinations of Alaska—  she was inspired to go on a trip after getting out of the coma. Claire had never been to Alaska and she had never shown interest in it, but for some reason while she was asleep she kept going to Alaska.

“It was so beautiful,” said Claire. She hallucinated about pine trees and coves and she remembered sitting there and “staring” at beautiful scenery for hours and hours. Later, she learned that throughout her coma, doctors were packing her with ice and that the freezing feeling may have been what took her mind to Alaska. 

In addition, Claire remembered the way people’s voices would affect her emotions. When she heard the familiar voices of her parents, she envisioned herself someplace beautiful and it was comforting. On the other hand, when she heard the voices of people that she barely knew, she felt lost and scared. 

“Being in a coma is just like a very magnified and intense version of our own dreams…this experience showed me who I care about and who makes me happy; and how the world can be manipulated so easily, and how our own minds can be manipulated,” shared Claire. 

Claire Wineland died on September 2nd 2018 at age of 21. According to a statement from her foundation Claire’s Place, Wineland suffered a massive stroke caused by a blood clot on August 26 following a double lung transplant.