Stilnox: miracle story

Sally Nielsen's world was turned upside down last year, when her 24 year old fiance suffered two major strokes while playing soccer. Sam Goddard was left unable to move or communicate. But Sally's determination to cure him resulted in a small miracle. With daily doses of the sleeping drug stilnox, Sam is able to walk and talk once more. Sally joined TODAY for a chat.

Sally Nielsen's fiance Sam, 24, suffered two massive strokes during a soccer match on Valentines Day in 2010 which lead to severe brain damage

Doctors said he wouldn't live, but after being in a coma for 45 days, he woke and was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit at Royal Brisbane Hospital.

He was able to stretch and open his fist, and then he was able to walk unassisted - but this progress diminished and he still wasn't able to communicate.

He later was moved back home - Whilst he cannot communicate, he is aware of all is surroundings, and what is going on.

Sally researched the sleeping pill Stilnox - and how it was having a different reaction on brain injury victims to people simply wanting to sleep.

When they were finally allowed to start using it on Sam to see what sort of effect it would have, he was able to talk and respond to them 99% as his old self would.

His face begins to relax and he can respond and laugh and carry on a normal conversation.

When the stilnox starts to wear off, his words start to slow down, they become very slurred and he starts to panic. He gets emotional and upset because he doesn't want to lose the ability to talk and he doesn't want to regress back into feeling trapped inside of his body.

Currently, Sam receives two x 15mg doses of Stilnox a day and it last for two hours at a time.

Sally looks after Sam for 20 hours a day; she then has a carer who comes in for four hours to relieve her.

About Stilnox:

Stilnox is a prescription medication used for the short-term treatment of insomnia as well as some brain disorders.

It works quickly (usually within 15 minutes) and has a short half life: 2-3 hours.

The active ingredient is called Zolpidem - it is a sedative which acts as a central nervous system depressant that slows down the activities of the brain to be able to induce sleep.

Sally came across a case study in South Africa where a man was motionless for years, his eyes open but unseeing. Doctors said he would never see or speak or hear but his mother, would dissolve Stilnox with water and force into his mouth and within half an hour, as if a switch had been flicked in his brain, he would look around and say hello.

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