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Once ruled dead, Oklahoma man now 'pretty good'

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Dunlap

Ali Goldstein / AP Enlarge

OKLAHOMA CITY - Four months after he was declared brain dead and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant, Zach Dunlap said he feels "pretty good."

Mr. Dunlap was pronounced dead Nov. 19 at United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. His family approved having his organs harvested.

As family members were paying their last respects, he moved his foot and hand. He reacted to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure applied under a fingernail. After 48 days in the hospital, he was allowed to return home, where he continues to work on his recovery.

He and his family were in New York yesterday, appearing on NBC's Today.

"I feel pretty good, but it's just hard ... just ain't got the patience," Mr. Dunlap told NBC.

Mr. Dunlap, 21, of Frederick, Okla., said he has no recollection of the crash.

"I remember a little bit that was about an hour before the accident happened. But then about six hours before that, I remember," he said.

Mr. Dunlap said one thing he does remember is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead.

"I'm glad I couldn't get up and do what I wanted to do," he said.

Asked if he would have wanted to get up and shake them and say he's alive, Mr. Dunlap responded: "Probably would have been a broken window."

His father, Doug, said he saw the results of the brain scan. "There was no activity at all, no blood flow at all."

Zach's mother, Pam, said that when she discovered he was still alive, "That was the most miraculous feeling."

"We had gone, like I said, from the lowest possible emotion that a parent could feel to the top of the mountains again," she said.

She said her son is doing "amazingly well," but still has problems with his memory as his brain heals from the traumatic injury.

"It may take a year or more ... before he completely recovers," she said. "But that's OK. It doesn't matter how long it takes. We're just all so thankful and blessed that we have him here."

Mr. Dunlap now has the pocketknife that was scraped across his foot, causing the first reaction. "Just makes me thankful, makes me thankful that they didn't give up," he said. "Only the good die young, so I didn't go."

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