Girl considered brain dead for years revealed she was aware of her surroundings

Ksenia Novikova
May 11, 2018
04:31 A.M.
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Arlen was trapped inside her own body despite being aware of her surroundings. She struggled with her disorder for four years.


The Megyn Kelly Today show covered the story of Paralympic Swimming Gold Medalist Victoria Arlen and interviewed her and her mother, Jacqueline, about their struggles with Arlen's rare disease

The interview took place on the sets of the NBC show where Arlen and her mother shared their experience of the four-year ordeal. After viewing the montage of Arlen's journey at the beginning of the show, host Kelly looked stunned.

Arlen calmed her down by smiling and started off by saying that the sad story had a happy ending. The 23-year-old made it big after being noticed on last year's season of Dancing With The Stars.


At the age of 11, Arlen developed an unusual disorder that left her in a vegetative state. She said that she had never fallen sick as a child. Nobody around her could even think of her acquiring the fatal illness.

Arlen's ordeal began when she started experiencing immense pain on the right side of her body. The doctors removed her appendix through surgery.

Within a span of two weeks, Arlen lost a considerable amount of weight but the pain did not subside. Her legs did not respond normally and her motor skills diminished.

She expressed her state as a circuit breaker and felt like the switches of her body parts were turned off simultaneously. The doctors had no idea of Arlen's deteriorating condition.


After seven years, the medical professionals were able to give their diagnosis. Arlen suffered from transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.

These autoimmune disorders caused swelling on Arlen's brain and spinal cord. The ESPN host felt like being a ghost trapped in her body. She felt like the lights went off in August 2006 and resumed back in January 2009.

She was conscious of her surroundings but could not move. SHe felt that she was having a normal conversation with the people around her but nobody responded to her. 

Slowly, Arlen managed to speak a few words and decided to fight back to come back to normalcy. She regained most of her motor skills except for her legs. She was told that she'd be chair-borne for life. 


Arlen joined school after five years and worked hard to graduate on time. She decided to resume her swimming when she was not a hundred percent fit. She found a coach and eyed for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Arlen won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle that year along with three silver medals. This shot Arlen to fame and she started appearing frequently on ESPN. 

Arlen became one of the youngest regular reporters on ESPN at the age of 21. She currently hosts for shows like SportsCenter and X Games