When he was twelve years old, Martin Pistorius succumbed to an unknown degenerative neurological disease that shut down his body, and doctors said it had also left him with the consciousness of a three month old baby. They were wrong. Martin spent sixteen years trapped inside his useless body unable to tell anyone that he was fully aware. Gradually, a woman attending him saw comprehension in his eyes. She convinced his parents to try new tests and Martin’s full mental ability was recognised. He spent years learning to communicate again and several operations restored much of his physical capability.
Martin had the bliss of being amongst people once more. Yet, with no memory of the time before his illness, Martin was a man-child, reborn in a world he didn’t know, wondering what future he would have. He was still in a wheelchair and unable to speak – barriers that many people could not overcome in order to develop a friendship with him. On New Year’s Day 2008, twenty years after he had first developed symptoms of his condition, Martin went online to ‘chat’ via webcam with his sister Kim who was living in England. She introduced him to a friend of hers, a fellow South African called Joan. The two soon fell intensely in love; they married in June 2009 and Martin moved to England. They now live in Essex where Joan works as a social services manager and Martin runs his own business designing websites.