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Purple Heart vet begins to wake from coma in ‘Christmas miracle’

A Purple Heart Combat Veteran baseball cap. (Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha/U.S. Air Force)
December 23, 2019

One Iowa family has a renewed sense of hope after Tony Belt survived an 18-foot fall during a workplace accident.

Belt, 39, has been in a coma for 10 weeks following his accident at Katelman Steel Fabrication in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he fell from a scissor lift and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Now his family sees signs he is coming back from his coma, NBC 5 reported.

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

She said doctors first believed her husband wouldn’t survive through the weekend after he was hospitalized in September. Belt did survive the weekend and doctors reportedly revised their prognosis to say he would never wake from his coma.

Belt’s family, however, knows him to be a survivor and a fighter. Belt reportedly served eight years in the Army, serving deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He survived injury during a tank explosion, survived a bullet grazing his back during training and in 2006 survived being shot again, this time in the head. Belt was awarded the Purple Heart for his 2006 head injury, which ended his military service.

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Kyli said she’s now just waiting for her husband to wake up.

Their three sons, 4, 3 and 7 months old, have been helping with the process too.

“They talk to him and play with him. The baby lays in bed with him,” she said.

Belt’s oldest son even predicted he would even talk again by Christmas Eve. Belt has not been able to verbalize yet, but he reportedly does communicate with thumbs-up and thumbs-down.

“Maybe he was right. Maybe he will be the Christmas miracle that he’s been telling me,” Kyli told reporters, though her husband gave a thumbs down in response at the time.

“Thumbs-up? Yeah, that’s going to be your Christmas miracle. Is that what you’re waiting for?” she said.

The family has also received Christmas letters of support, which Kyli said her sons have loved to open.

“It’s been a long three months with them, and it’s been really hard,” she said. “They went from being told that Daddy was going to heaven and they will never see him again to him being here and interacting with them. I just want to change their moods and let them be kids again.”

The sons reportedly hope to receive 1,000 Christmas cards. Letters can be mailed to:

Tony Belt
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital
17500 Burke St., R-1 Room 109
Omaha NE 68118