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'I was in a coma for about 45 days': UBC student graduates after near-fatal accident

A graduating student at UBC who nearly lost his life is setting out to help support those with traumatic brain injuries.

Yi Du will walk across the stage on Wednesday to wrap up his undergraduate degree—a journey that included a longboarding collision with a vehicle in the fall of 2021 that left him with brain injuries he says many thought he would never recover from.

"I was in a coma for about 45 days," said Du. "They had to help me breathe, so they had me connected to a ventilator."

Du, who was then 22 years old, says when he awoke, he faced an uphill battle. He suffered from a condition called left hemiparesis, which caused muscle weakness throughout his body, and he needed help walking.

The student spent the next few months trying to regain strength by undergoing an intensive rehabilitation program. Finally, after months of work, Du began seeing progress; he gained weight and gradually improved his walking.

In May 2022, Du said, he was discharged and began to set his eyes on the next semester in September, where he could continue his education.

Du returned to UBC in fall 2022 and continued with his academic success, despite his brain injuries.

"He performed well academically; he was an A+ student," said Dr. Lyndia Wu, an assistant professor at UBC.

Wu, whose research area is brain injury and concussion biomechanics, says before his accident, Du had been learning from her and was interested in pursuing similar research after graduation.

"I personally know that the prognosis from a severe brain injury is poor. This recovery is amazing. It's extraordinary," said Wu.

Wu says despite a year delay in receiving his diploma, Du's experience ignited a passion for seeking education that could one day help others.

The now-24-year-old plans to attend Stanford University this September and obtain a PhD in the hopes of developing technology to support those with traumatic brain injuries.

When CTV News asked Du what it was going to feel like when he walked across the stage on Wednesday, he smiled and quickly said he'll try not to fall. Top Stories


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