Forrest Allen Stone of The Plains, Virginia, was an 18-year-old senior in high school when a snowboarding accident left him in a coma.
"They took, essentially, the front third of his skull off so that the brain could swell without causing further damage,” his mother, Rae Stone, explained to WRAL. “They told us we should prepare for him not to wake up from his coma. I’m like, ‘How do you prepare for that?’”
Although Forrest has since recovered and his rebound has been hailed as a victory in music therapy, five years later Rae is still frustrated by the lack of control she had over her son’s medical decisions. At the time of the accident, Forrest was legally an adult and his parents had no control.
In this case, Forrest’s doctors were considered his care providers. Although Rae tried to obtain legal guardianship of her son, she now recommends preventive actions.
Rae says parents should have three signed and notarized forms on hand in case of emergencies, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act release form that allows health care providers to share information, medical power of attorney and durable power of attorney for financial decisions.
“If Forrest had stayed in a coma … and we hadn't been able to get legal guardianship, then the state would make those decisions, and I can't imagine how terrible that would be,” she said.
Forrest, who graduated from high school three years after his accident, according to The Washington Post, still needs to have his skull closed with prosthetics, but he's doing well.
“Now, he’s able to play the guitar. When, for two years, he wasn’t able to open his hands,” Rae said.