Tragedy and miracles go hand in hand, intertwined in our experiences and so deeply woven that we struggle to pick out the threads of each. Why did this one survive, and this one not? Why a miraculous recovery from illness here but not there? Is it medicine? Is it luck? Is it truly the hand of God?The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up follows the pattern of tragedy and miracle in the life of Donny Herbert, a Buffalo city firefighter. In 1995 Donny was severely injured during a fire when a roof collapsed on top of him. Deprived of oxygen for six minutes, Donny was left in a persistent vegetative state, unable to communicate and seemingly unaware of his surroundings. His body could function, but his mind was, for all appearances, gone. Donny remained in this state for nearly 10 years, as his wife, family and friends struggled to move on, hoping and praying that someday, a miracle might happen.
In April 2005, it did. Despite doctors' certainty that he would never be able to communicate or even respond, Donny simply woke up, able to speak and even toss a football with his now nearly grown sons, a miracle that lasted for nearly 18 hours.
How did this astonishing recovery take place? Did medicine play a part? Was it Donny's indomitable will, working in him through the long, dark years? Or was it a miracle, attributed by some to a revered priest from Buffalo's past? Rich Blake's account explores all of these questions, though the answers remain as elusive as ever. Even if Blake cannot answer the questions, he does provide a compelling portrait of an ordinary man and his working-class community. In the life of Donny Herbert, readers will discover people who could live just down the street, and come to appreciate the strength that can exist in the everyday, especially when that everyday is girded with love.