CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) – Just a month ago, 18-year-old Matthew Brown was in a coma from a hit-and-run crash. He couldn’t speak or eat, and doctors feared the worst.
But Thursday, he was poised to stand up and fulfill a lifelong dream.
He left his Hope Children’s Hospital room to pick up his diploma, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.
Nurses set the mood, humming “Pomp and Circumstance,” as Brown prepared for his big day.
“I’m so excited I get to wear this robe,” he said while putting on his graduation gown.
Ten weeks ago, it didn’t look like the high school senior would make it to graduation.
St. Patrick’s Day, he was crossing the street at 14th and Wentworth in Chicago Heights on his way home when he was struck by an SUV. The driver kept going.
“I didn’t see the car, I didn’t hear the car,” Brown said.
The teen suffered massive injuries, including head trauma. His right leg had to be amputated, and he was in a coma for more than a month.
Thursday, he was strong enough to stand and accept his degree from Bloom High School in Chicago Heights. He has been doing physical therapy three times a day.
“A month and a half ago, he was not able to speak. He was not able to eat. He was pretty much bed-ridden,” said Dr. Douglas Koltun, who led the therapy team.
But now Brown is able to move forward with the aid of a walker.
In a few months, the young man will be able to walk with a prosthesis. He plans to attend junior college to study criminal justice.