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Purple Heart veteran comes out of coma just in time for Christmas

Kyli Belt's husband, Tony, is a Purple Heart veteran. He's woken up from a coma just in time for the holidays after suffering a work-related accident. Kyli Belt/Facebook

A Christmas miracle has happened in the heart of Nebraska.

Defying all odds, a Purple Heart veteran awoke from a coma last month after suffering his second traumatic brain injury.

Now, Tony Belt is able to sit up and celebrate the holidays with his wife Kyli Belt and their three sons.

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“[The kids] talk to him and play with him,” Kyli told KETV-TV. “The baby even lays in bed with him.”
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Three months ago, Tony fell 5.5 metres from a scissor lift while working at Katelman Steel Fabrication in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Doctors said he would never wake up, even after he showed signs of improvement.

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“The doctors told me he probably wasn’t going to make it to the weekend,” Kyli told the broadcast station.

However, he survived that first weekend and well into the next.

“Last week, he started moving his left side, opening his eyes,” Kyli said.

If his history is any indication, Tony wasn’t going to stop fighting. He spent eight years serving in the American army and was deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea. He was shot twice and survived a tank explosion.

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The second gunshot hit him in the head and ended his military career in 2006. He received a Purple Heart, a military decoration awarded to those wounded or killed while serving.

Since Tony opened his eyes, his therapists at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, along with the help of his kids, have been getting him back into shape.

He first started making improvements in early November and has since been learning to walk, eat and breathe on his own again.

By the end of November, Tony was sitting up in a wheelchair and able to hug his children, and by mid-December, he’s moving better than ever.

On Dec. 15, Kyli shared an update on her Facebook page, writing: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Tony has awaken [sic] enough to be moved upstairs … He is emerging from the coma and starting to follow commands.”

READ MORE: Woman with brain injury communicates for the first time in 21 years in ‘Christmas Miracle’

The family has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for his rehabilitation. It’s since raised more than US$15,000.

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The couple’s four-year-old son Eli has also declared that his dad will talk by Christmas Eve, according to WDTN News 2.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca