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Boy In Coma Responds When Family Talks About His Pup

November 13, 1991

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Man’s best friend is often just what the doctor ordered.

After being in a coma for a week, 11-year-old Donny Tomei snapped his fingers and moved his legs and an arm when he heard his dog Rusty missed him, his family said.

The sixth-grader is suffering from severe head injuries he sustained when he was hit by a car Nov. 4 after he stepped off a curb to fetch a tennis ball.

″Now he moves his legs and arm every time we say, ’Donny, you have to get better so you can walk Rusty down to the boat ramp. He’s crying for you,‴ said Donny’s brother, Albert Tomei. ″He loves that dog more than anything.″

He first moved Friday, when he was taken off his respirator at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and his family mentioned the 6-month-old part chow, part collie.

Donny moved his legs and an arm. The next day, he snapped his fingers when his uncle suggested he ″snap them for Rusty.″

Tuesday, he opened his eyes for the first time, but he still is considered comatose since he is not conscious.

Albert Tomei said the family plans to make a tape of Rusty barking and to hang a poster-size picture of the dog across from Donny’s bed.

″He definitely hears and when he started moving around it was exciting,″ said his sister, Angela Manachio.

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