Purple Heart veteran comes out of coma just in time for Christmas

OMAHA, Nebraska -- A Purple Heart veteran from Nebraska who suffered his second traumatic brain injury is making a miraculous recovery just in time for Christmas.

Christmas Eve will mark three months since Tony Belt fell from a scissor lift in a work accident.

Tony wasn't supposed to sit next to his son or even sit up on his own. He wasn't supposed to be awake - or even alive.

"Last week he started moving his left side, opening his eyes," said Kyli Belt, Tony's wife.

Tony has been in a coma for ten weeks, suffering a traumatic brain injury in a workplace accident last September. He fell 18-feet from a scissor lift at Katelman Steel Fabrication in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"The doctors told me he probably wasn't going to make it to the weekend," Kyli told KETV-TV.

He survived that weekend, but doctors still said he wouldn't wake up.

But Tony is a fighter. Eight years in the army, deployed in Iraq and injured in a tank explosion.

In 2006, he was shot in the head, ending his military career and giving him the Purple Heart.

Therapists at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital put the soldier to work, with help from his three sons, ages four, three and seven months old.

"They talk to him and play with him, the baby even lays in bed with him," said Kyli.

Now that he's improving, Kyli says their family needs some holiday cheer. Friends started sending Christmas cards.

"Decorating dad's room was the number one thing, because if we didn't decorate for Christmas, Santa wouldn't know to come," said Kyli.

The Belt's four-year-old son, Eli, didn't listen to the doctors either. He declared his dad would talk by Christmas Eve.

And right now, Tony communicates by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down.

"Maybe he was right. Maybe he will be the Christmas miracle that he's been telling me," said Kyli.

Tony gave the thumbs-up.
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