Family Calls It A Miracle

By: Kristina Hamilton Email
By: Kristina Hamilton Email

BAY COUNTY,FL---- 21-year-old John Branch is the youngest of five siblings. Everyone describes him as shy, but a good kid. Older brother Allan says John hardly drinks alcohol. So they were shocked when local medical professionals accused John of taking methamphetamine in the fall of 2008.

"They're saying he is a schizophrenic. He has nothing wrong with him. He's a schiz and they're tasing him and putting him in the ambulance calling him a meth addict," says Allan Branch.

After a few hundred tests, doctors finally diagnosed John as having a case of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks, and can cause mental problems.

Because it mimics the symptoms of other illnesses, it is difficult to diagnose and treat.

"Most people don't test positive for Lyme. You look at the quarterback for FSU a few years ago he went crazy one night and he was on the car screaming throwing things and they arrested him and he had Lyme and it very much makes you look crazy," says Allan Branch.

John's father, Jimmy Branch, says John contracted Lyme disease when a deer tick bit him during a four-wheeling trip off Highway 20.

Things really took a turn for the worst around Christmas when John lapsed into a coma.

This week things began looking up.

Monday afternoon Allan created a website to help pay for medical bills. In the first two minutes it collected $1,500. After the first hour visitors donated $3,600. By Friday afternoon it was up to $35,000.

"It just went out on Twitter and Facebook and all of our family friends and loved ones and friends across the country....I'm sorry...(Branch crying), says Jimmy Branch.

But Thursday night brought, what the Branch family calls, a miracle. About 10:30 Thursday night, John awoke from his coma and began talking to his mother.

Branch says it's been 11 months since they've had a real conversation with him, "I don't know if I'm in the movie awakenings or the movie it's a wonderful life."

In the midst of John's battle his former baseball coach, Billy Perry, contracted a tick born disease called Ehrlichiosis. Because of John's experience he was extra persistent in making sure medical officials treated him for a tick born disease.

"I think having done that really probably hit it off from some further complications for me," says Perry.

He says he's hoping and praying John will also make a full recovery.


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