IN SEPTEMBER doctors were preparing to turn off his life support.
Seven months later and Jamie Manuele is speaking, eating and starting to move his legs.
The 31-year-old might still have a long way to go, but his mum Daphnejean Finnegan is determined to get him there, no matter what it takes, even if it's controversial.
Daphnejean has been giving her son Stilnox since late last year and said that she knew it was the reason he was on the road to recovery.
The father of four has been in hospital since August after suffering swelling to his brain and had been declared brain dead by doctors.
"Jamie's not up and moving, but he's talking and he's opinionated now," Daphnejean said.
"He can sit himself up in his chair and pull his eyes straight."
Daphnejean has no regrets about giving Stilnox to Jamie under the radar and would do it again.
"I was sneaking him Stilnox at first," she said.
Daphnejean had been told about the side effects of the drug, but was ready to do anything to see a glimpse of who her son used to be.
"There's a lot of controversy around (Stilnox) because normal people who take it end up sleep walking," she said.
"(But) with a brain injury, Stilnox is affecting the part of the brain that we don't normally use."
Daphnejean said with Jamie improving in "leaps and bounds" his doctors have taken notice and were onboard.
"I told the doctor I was giving him Stilnox two weeks ago, and the doctor said there's been a big improvement and they've decided to reassess him," Daphnejean said.
She said his doctor started giving him one Stilnox in the morning since.
And according to Jamie's mum, when he's had his dose of the drug, he's conscious, alert and is starting to say a few words.
But when it wears off, Jamie slowly reverts to the way he's been for the past few months.
Stilnox is a prescription drug mainly used to treat sleeping difficulties
It has recently come to light in the media as a "miracle cure" for patients with brain injuries
Information on the drug is still emerging so it's important to approach claims of a possible cure with caution
The positive evidence being presented is that some patients with brain injuries resulting in minimally conscious states or vegetative states have regained levels of consciousness and cognitive capacities after taking Stilnox