At 12 years old, Martin Pistorius fell ill, and the condition slowly took away his motor functions. Doctors had no idea what was affecting the young boy, and he eventually fell into a coma. For 13 years, the lad lay in that state before waking up. It was a bittersweet moment as Martin had some interesting stories regarding his time in a coma.
As Normal as They Come
As a young boy, nothing distinguished Martin Pistorius from his peers. As far as his health and physique were concerned, he was as normal as they come. That's probably why when he fell ill at 12 years old, his parents figured it was just the usual ailments affecting their son.
Unfortunately, this couldn't be farther from the truth, as the seemingly non-fatal disease would become the family's biggest challenge. Additionally, this condition would make Martin the poster boy for strange, mysterious illnesses and recoveries across the globe. This is one of those stories no one would believe if it wasn't documented.
In Sickness and Ill Health
As stated earlier, Martin was a reasonably healthy boy, but things took a sudden turn one day. The boy was in school when he suddenly developed a sore throat. His teachers sent him home to receive medical treatment hoping the little one would be back sooner than later.
Sadly, this sore throat developed into something else, and Martin lost his voice. This might not have been a cause for alarm had the boy not started experiencing extreme fatigue. Before long, Pistorius was a recluse, avoiding contact with his friends, family, and relatives. Unfortunately, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Running Out of Options
Martin's parents sought the help of various physicians, but things did not improve. On the contrary, everything was taking an even darker turn. It was as if their efforts were in vain, and the boy's health was hell-bent on making him bedridden.
Doctors couldn't point out why the lad's health was declining steadily. One and a half years after the start of this ordeal, Martin was mute and hospitalized. Additionally, he could only move with the assistance of a wheelchair, but his parents had not given up on him. The doctors were quickly running out of options and forced to make a tough call.
A Tough Call to Make
After testing him for various ailments, the doctors decided to treat him for brain tuberculosis, but that did not work out. The physicians then shifted their eyes to cryptococcal meningitis, but that was also a dead end. Again, nothing in their charts seemed to add up, and they quickly landed on some grave conclusions.
Martin was rapidly deteriorating, so the doctors figured there was some brain damage involved which would harm Martin's life. They quickly relayed this information to the family, letting them know they should probably start saying their goodbyes. The doctors had reached the rope's end. The worst was the only outcome they could predict.
Against All the Odds
By the time Martin was leaving the hospital, his parents and doctors had started the countdown to his passing. It was a sad state of affairs, but Martin had other plans. Instead of passing away as they had predicted, our boy kept fighting and living.
Martin's motor skills might have been out of commission, but he was still alive and kicking. Seeing this, his parents decided to ensure their son was as comfortable as possible. They set the alarm every two hours to turn Martin, so he did not get bed sores. This arrangement went on for 12 years but unknown to them, there was a lot of brewing under the surface.
A Prisoner in His Own Body
Seeing their son yet unable to speak to communicate with him must have been heartbreaking for Martin's parents. All they could do was care for their bedridden son, hoping he would become his old self again one day. Nevertheless, no one had it more complicated than the young man because he was the one whose life changed dramatically with a mysterious condition.
Then, one day, he regained consciousness, but it came with a catch. Even though Martin was utterly aware of what was happening around him, other people were clueless about it. The teenager became some sort of prisoner in his own body, unable to speak his mind—literally.
He Felt Like a Living Ghost
It's hard to imagine what it felt like for Martin, being fully awake and yet unable to move or speak. In a way, he was like a ghost—he could see his family and friends and hear their conversations, but they were unaware he was "present."
When the young man was interviewed many years after by NBC News, he mentioned that he felt like a spirit, invisible to everyone around him. Martin's experience could be likened to Sleeping Beauty from the fairy tale, except his mind woke up earlier than his body. The experience is something every human would wish not to happen to them.
What Was Really Happening
At a glance, many had the notion that young Martin Pistorius fell into a coma. Still, in reality, he was only in a vegetative state. His eyes could open, yet he could not move or speak. His condition did not look good, though, which was why doctors told his parents not to expect him to "reawaken."
It was a good thing they never lost hope because they may not have been aware, but his mind came around after four years. Martin heard conversations of people near him, even the programs that played on the television. He must have heard arguments about different topics and wished he could participate.
What Martin Hated the Most: Powerlessness
We can only imagine Martin's frustration from being unable to communicate, but it must have been so bad. When he spoke to the media years after his experience, he shared the fear he felt because of complete powerlessness. His body was present, and so was his mind, yet other people decided
Martin may have hated a dish his caretaker fed him, but he could not do anything to make his feelings known. The young man shared that he disliked the children's TV show Barney, but he was forced to watch it while recovering. No wonder Martin used the word "terrified" when describing his experience, especially regarding his helplessness.
He Was Struggling in Silence
If there is a phrase to describe Martin Pistorius' experience perfectly, it would be a "silent struggle." For a few years, he was like a statue with consciousness. People could see and touch him, but he could not respond, no matter how much he wanted to.
Martin did try with all his might to give his caretakers signs that his mind was awake. We can imagine him trying to move his eyes, fingers, and toes but to no avail. Nevertheless, in time, the vegetative teenager was able to make small movements, but people failed to notice them. Perhaps the doctors' words kept ringing in their heads that Martin won't recover. When could his breakthrough be?
With Company but Lonely
Although Pistorius was frequently surrounded by people, he often felt lonely. He was conscious but stuck in his mind as he couldn’t talk or move. According to the Ghost Boy author, it was like an out-of-body experience where the camera of his life was rolling as he watched helplessly, unable to impact any outcome.
Martin knew that no matter how long it took before he recovered, his mum and dad would never give up on him. Even so, if something happened to his parents, that would be it for him. Imagine having such thoughts and fears and not being able to share them with the people that love and care about you; pure torture if you ask us.
TV Watching Led to Absolute Boredom
We all long for the weekends or a holiday where we could just sit around all day and do nothing. As lovely as this may be for the first couple of hours of doing it, it eventually leads to unbelievable boredom. As humans, we’re meant to move around and be busy with purpose; that’s what makes life interesting.
So imagine being in a vegetative state like Pistorius for more than a decade of your life where all you can do is be in the same position day and night, watching TV. Martin cannot bear to watch certain TV shows to this day as he saw enough of them when he was ill.
The Pain of Watching Your Own Child Suffer
As hard as it was for Pistorius not to be able to talk or move for more than a decade of his life, he knew that his parents had an equally difficult time with the situation. Watching their son go through such an ordeal and not being able to help him was emotionally taxing for Martin's folks.
Although the Ghost Boy writer felt nothing but love and compassion from his parents, he often saw them struggle with self-defeating thoughts of wondering whether they were doing enough for their boy. Sadly, he had no way of telling them they were doing great and thanking them. Martin's mother even told him once, "I hope you die..." The then desperate mom later shared with NPR, "Oh, that’s horrific when I think about it now."
Forced to Be Observant
Pistorius often got frustrated with his condition, which had him trapped in his own body. Yet, there was hope in knowing that his mind was willed enough to stay awake, and so eventually, it could convince the rest of his body to come alive again.
In the meantime, when the writer's attention wasn't occupied with a show on TV, it would be on conversations going on around him. With nothing else to do, Pistorius was forced to be highly observant, noticing voice inflections and changes in facial expressions, which have both contributed to his being a good judge of character today.
A Dreamer With No Limitations
When you’re fully awake and aware of your surroundings but cannot interact with the world around you, you can quickly learn how to retreat to your mind, which is exactly what happened with Pistorius. After months of being immobile, he eventually learned to ignore the noise around him and focus on his thoughts.
According to Pistorius, he became a dreamer building the life that he wanted for himself through his imagination; what a skill to have! Imagine the kind of world we would live in if everyone had hope and envisioned better for themselves and those around them; wouldn’t this be a better world?
A Child Missing His Parents
Once Pistorius realized that no one was aware that he was awake, he tried everything he could to make the people around him know that he was conscious. At the same time, Pistorius was trying to stave off loneliness in his mind—proof that even while in the sick bed, Pistorius still had huge control over his mind.
Still, let's not forget the fact that through it all, Pistorius was simply a child who missed his parents and wanted to interact with them as a normal kid would. The young boy’s condition had made him miss a lot of fun times with his folks.
A Difficult Situation for Pistorius
We honestly can't imagine how Pistorius must have felt, stuck in his body, without the ability to speak or communicate with anyone. This must have caused a lot of mental strain on the poor boy, and it would have been so difficult for him to keep pushing, but even if Pistorius had wanted out, there was no way he could have done anything. So, he was completely stuck in this situation.
The young boy had to endure this condition for several years, and as the years went by, Pistorius grew from childhood into adulthood. All this while, no one knew that he was very much awake and alert. Thankfully, after 13 years, it seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Finally! Few Tiny Signs
After trying so hard for so long to reach the people around him, Pistorius must have resigned to fate. After 13 years of trying without success to communicate with the outside world, the young man must have thought that was how he would live out the rest of his days, without anyone recognizing that he had been aware all along.
Alas! In 2001, it looked like fortune decided to smile on Pistorius when a new worker resumed at the care center. This woman watched the unconscious man so carefully that she began to notice what everyone else had failed to see—tiny signs that Pistorius might be more alert than they had thought.
New Hope for Pistorius
Pistorius's new carer was able to detect signs that others had failed to pick in over 13 years. Maybe it was the fact that she was new that set her apart from everyone else who had gotten used to the inanimate Pistorius, and so she was able to see the tiny signs. Either that or the lady was exceptionally perceptive.
Whatever the reason, things were looking up for Pistorius, who had finally managed to show someone that he was awake. Once the lady detected these signs, she had him transferred to the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication for some tests.
A Breakthrough in Communication
At the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Pistorius went through a series of tests to check his understanding and awareness. The specialists were able to discover that this young man was very much awake and alert and instantly set him with the necessary equipment he'd use to communicate.
Finally, after trying for 13 years, Pistorius was able to reach the world. Over time, as he got used to the equipment, Pistorius started learning how to say important phrases and words. He could now tell someone if he was uncomfortable or needed something to eat or drink.
A Supper Worth Remembering
In a heart-touching revelation, Pistorius shared his experience of the moment he discovered his ability to communicate once again. It meant that he could start his life afresh and probably bear some semblance of existence. The young man was so full of words in his mind that he couldn't wait to let them out.
Besides, Pistorius never forgot the feeling when his mother asked him what he would like for dinner. On mentioning Spaghetti Bolognese for supper, the doting mom immediately prepared the dish for her son. Although this event might seem trivial, for Martin, the feeling was phenomenal.
Starting From Zero Again
Pistorius started getting a grip on the new technology that enabled him to speak with his doctors and dear ones lately. With time, he only kept realizing how effective this device truly was. After all, it helped him to read, write, and interact with other people. Indeed, the powerful tool encouraged Martin to make decisions for himself yet again.
The only challenge before Pistorius was relearning these basic skills after 13 years in an entirely different way. Yet, the young man managed to master them all besides learning how to move while in a wheelchair and drive a specially-designed vehicle for his use.
Planning Out a Career
Now that Pistorius had gotten his life back, he was ecstatic to make a blissful start. Nonetheless, the splendidness did not end there. After acquiring the abilities, Martin had new expectations from life and many incredible decisions to make.
As he was able to function once again, he started to think of all sorts of suitable careers he could pursue. It's great to note how wonderful it was that the choice was entirely his now! Soon, the new technology enabled him to embark on a successful job as a web designer. Nevertheless, there was one thing that seemed to bother Martin.
With a Heart So Desolate
After 13 long years of being imprisoned inside a body, Martin was finally able to live life like an average adult once again. The fact that he could communicate with the world, express his thoughts and make decisions for himself was surreal. Moreover, the young man also became one of the first people with non-functioning speech to graduate.
Even though Pistorius had achieved many of his ambitions, he still lacked something important in his life—true love. The poor fellow had no one with whom to share his warmth and affection. Little did he know what destiny had in store for him.
Finally, the Lovebirds Meet
Longing for love had always been a part of Pistorius. So, after rebuilding his life in fascinating ways, he started yearning for a companion to share all his stories and adventures with. Luckily, the young man found his perfect partner and soulmate in Joanna on New Year's Day in 2008.
This gorgeous lady was one of his sister's friends, and sparks flew between them almost instantly when they met. Joanna fell for Martin's humble nature, impressive looks, and cheerful smile. On the other hand, he immensely enjoyed her company and soon realized she was the one for him.
Finally Tying the Knot
Most people who are deeply in love want nothing more than to tie the knot and stay in love. It wasn’t any different for Pistorius and his lover Joanna, who tied the knot a year after they met. It must have been one thrilling experience for the lad who finally found love after a great deal of suffering.
As the pair exchanged their vows in the U.K, it must have sounded like a promise of never being or feeling alone again for Pistorius. The couple still lives in the U.K and has kept their spark alive to date.
Welcoming a Small Pistorius
After all the agonizing years he spent lying in a coma and trapped in his body, it’s lovely to imagine how everything now felt for Martin Pistorius. He could not only eat, move, and talk, but was also now a married man ready to savor married life.
The merriment began almost as soon as the pair said I do since in 2011, and two years after their wedding, they welcomed their firstborn son, Sebastian Albert Pistorius. Martin himself was elated and couldn’t keep it to himself as he shared on his socials how the sound of his son’s laughter made his heart beam with joy.
He Wrote a Moving Autobiography
It is said that sunshine comes after rain, and for Pistorius, his shine had only just started. The young man’s life was not only full of love and laughter, but he also possessed remarkable abilities that many were oblivious of until 2011 when he released his autobiography Ghost Boy.
Co-written with Megan Lloyd Davies and published by Simon & Shuster, the book gained instant popularity and made him a celebrity. He made numerous media appearances where he delivered a dozen interviews and even gave a talk, How my mind came back to life—and no one knew on TEDx in 2015.
Focusing on the Bigger Picture
Pistorius ended up doing what most people leave at word level – he turned the lemons life threw at him into lemonade. Imagine if he had sat back and wallowed in bitterness at all the years that had gone by with him in a vegetative state or in a wheelchair, his inspiring best-selling autobiography wouldn’t have been.
In his words, life is bound to change quickly at any moment and it, therefore, makes more sense to appreciate what we have at each moment, to never stop dreaming, and to recognize the importance of love and faith.
He Gained Fame Around the World
Just like his story has touched your heart, Pistorius’s life account got too many others. His vigor, resolve, and zest for life were a source of great inspiration to many around the world. Thanks to his experience and wisdom, he has gained more fans by the day.
Everyone wanted to hear the story of the man who woke up from a coma after years and spent 12 years of his life unable to move or communicate, from the man himself. He hadn’t realized it then but Pistorius was famous and his fame wasn’t about to peter out anytime soon.
22 Babies at 24 Years Old: The Unbelievable Story of Kristina Osturk
How many children do you think is a good amount for one family? One, two, three… four? Maybe you think it's none at all. Whatever your personal thoughts, it’s unlikely you’ll be thinking of a number as high as one couple in Georgia.
Kristina Ozturk and her husband Galip are currently the proud parents of 21 children, plus one more Kristina had before they met. What’s more, all 21 of the couple’s children were born within 18 months of each other. How is that possible? Here is the unbelievable, but true, story of the Ozturk family.
Teenage Single Mom
In 2014, the Moscow-born woman Kristina Ozturk was a 17-year-old single mother responsible for caring for and raising her daughter alone. It was at this moment that, in a plot twist that could have been written into a Disney movie, Kristina’s life changed forever.
The Russian teenager, who had been working as a stripper in order to support her family, took a trip away. As the mother and daughter enjoyed their first international vacation in the Georgian seaside resort of Batumi, Kristina met a 50-year-old millionaire hotel owner named Galip Ozturk and, despite the 33-year age gap, the two fell head over heels in love.
On the Same Page
It wasn’t only an attraction for each other that the teenage Kristina and millionaire Galip shared, they were also on the same page when it came to extending their family. While many couples wish to have 2, 3, or even 4 children, Kristina and Galip Ozturk, who married soon after meeting, wanted to have as many as they possibly could.
At first, Kristina and Galip planned to have one child a year. They quickly decided that wouldn't give them as many children as they wanted, as quickly as they hoped for. That’s when they decided to begin using surrogates.
21 Kids in 17 Months
By using surrogates to grow their family, Kristina and Galip Ozturk removed all biological limitations on the number of children they could produce, and how quickly. Between March 2020 and July 2021, the couple welcomed 21 children into their lives. Added to Kristina’s existing daughter, that meant 22 kids to look after, 21 of whom were under 18 months old.
The names of the surrogate-born children are, in age order: Mustafa, Mariam, Ayrin, Alisa, Hasan, Judi, Harper, Teresa, Huseyin, Anna, Isabella, Ismail, Mehmet, Ahmet, Ali, Kristina, Sara, Lokman, Galip, Olivia, and Judy.
A Lot of Help
Caring for just one infant can be a full-time job for two parents, looking after 21 plus a six-year-old would be impossible, even if Galip Ozturk wasn’t busy most days running his transport and hotel business. Fortunately, Kristina and Galip had the financial resources to bring in all the help they needed.
An army of nannies and assistants were recruited to help with the day-to-day duties of keeping so many babies happy and healthy. All this taken into account, the three-story mansion which served as the family home soon began to feel very full indeed.
Having such a large number of babies at the same time put a strain on more than Kristina and Galip Ozturk’s time. It also put a significant dent in their, admittedly ample, finances. At up to $9,707 per pregnancy, the total amount paid to surrogates in a year and a half was more than $160,000.
Added to that, the couple has found themselves paying almost $100,000 per year for 16 live-in nannies and spending around $250,000 per year on nappies, baby formula, and other essentials. Even with millions in the bank, half a million dollars in one year is not an insignificant expense.
While a house full of nannies is a big help, Kristina and Galip Ozturk still divide their own responsibilities in the same way as millions of couples around the world. Due to his business, Galip continues to be the breadwinner who spends most of his days at work, while Kristina is completely absorbed in caring for their children.
Kristina and Galip also make sure to share their weekends and always eat meals together. The children currently eat at different times, but this may change as the infants grow older and are able to schedule their meals more regularly.
Of course, Kristina and Galip Ozturk’s unusual life has fascinated thousands of people all around the world. Kristina has capitalized on this by launching an Instagram page @batumi_mama on which she documents the daily life of her family.
The page currently has over 220,000 followers and Kristina posts pictures and videos every day detailing how she, her husband, and her kids spend time together and how they manage to enjoy full lives despite the enormous responsibility of having so many children to care for. Kristina also gives regular parenting advice and tips to other parents considering having one, ten, or 100 children.
As the children are in the care of nannies for significant portions of time, it has been suggested that some may find themselves becoming closer to their paid carers than to their parents. “No,” Kristina Ozturk has responded to the suggestion, “there are no bindings.” This is partly prevented by the way in which the nannies are scheduled, with them revolving between the children on a daily basis.
“During the day - of course, a specific [nanny] is responsible for a specific child,” Kristina adds. “But during the week the nannies change.” Each live-in nanny works on a rota system with four days on and two off, so rotation of the children they care for is essential in order to keep a continuous service.
Kristina Ozturk has also defended herself against accusations that there’s no way she can have the same bond with all those children as she might with just one or two she had birthed herself and was raising in a more traditional way. Kristina is proud of the individual connections she and Galip have with every single member of her huge brood.
“Yes. We have a special bond with every child,” Kristina claims, before adding. “I wish every parent to be able to spend all their time with their children, because this is the most important thing in life.”
Surrogacy can be a tricky process with a lot of strong and natural feelings involved from both the parents and the surrogate. Kristina and Galip Ozturk were helped by the very clear laws and systems in place in Georgia. Surrogacy is completely legal in Georgia, so long as biological parents are heterosexual and married. Added to this, all guardianship rights are given to the biological parents alone and the surrogate is given no claim to any child they carry.
Surrogates are rigorously screened to ensure they are physically and psychologically able to complete the pregnancy and willingly give up the baby after it is born. Counseling is given to every surrogate before the process is begun and legal documents are signed by all parties. Only young, clean-living women who have already had a pregnancy are selected.
There is also complete anonymity throughout the surrogacy process. The parents and the surrogate never meet each other and the clinic, which for Kristina and Galip Ozturk is based in Batumi where they met and now live, handles the entire process. “All communication takes place through the clinic, we only monitor health indicators,” Kristina explains. “I make up a dietary menu for mothers so that the food is complete, I look at the test results.”
It’s a rigorous and open process and seems to prevent most complications, but is not completely flawless. One of Kristina and Galip’s 21 surrogates did try to keep the baby after it was born but, as she had no legal rights, the child was quickly given to its biological parents with no legal recourse to change that.
“I spend the maximum amount of time with my children,” Kristina Ozturk wrote on her Instagram. “But when I'm not with them, I control everything. I teach each nanny independently when applying for a job - no amateur activity is allowed, the upbringing of children is strictly according to my instructions.” These instructions can be incredibly detailed. For instance, Kristina dictates to each nanny “what to read to children, in what order and at what time and with what duration.”
It doesn’t stop there. Kristina accepts no compromise when it comes to her kids’ diet. Food is served “strictly according to grams - not a gram more, not a gram less” and Kristina will only allow her family to be fed “homemade meals [with] no purchased ready-made cans of complementary foods.”
While Kristina Ozturk can’t be with every child every moment of the day, she insists on being completely informed about every detail of their activities. “Each child has a diary that records ALL the details of his life,” Kristina explains “What we ate, how much we ate, how I slept, how I walked, how many went to the toilet, how many were crying, what changes happened with the body.”
The young mother of 22 also asks her nannies to photograph every dirty nappy to check its contents are “of a good color and consistency”. The caring for and discipline of each child are also strictly regulated by Kristina. “If the child begins to cry, I forbid you to take him in your arms,” Kristina tells the family’s nannies. She prefers that her children are helped to “calm down” by being “distracted” instead of held.
Despite having 22 children to care for at the age of just 24, Kristina and Galip Ozturk say they are not finished yet and may even choose to have babies biologically at some time in the future. While Kristina admits it is “not practical” for her to be pregnant while caring for so many infants, she has not ruled out increasing her brood by any means possible.
When asked to say how many children she and Galip would be finally happy with, Kristina is unwilling to commit. “We [are] just not ready to talk about the final number,” the young mother says. “Everything has its time.”
In 2022, Kristina Ozturk’s life was given its biggest challenge yet when her husband was arrested by Georgian authorities on May 31. Galip Ozturk, who is already a fugitive from Turkey after being sentenced to life for a murder alleged to have been committed in 1996, was arrested in his adopted home country on charges of money laundering and falsifying documents.
Losing her husband’s presence, even temporarily, has affected Kristina deeply. "The feeling of loneliness does not leave me even with such a large number of close people around,” she posted on Instagram after the arrest by special forces.
"I'm used to my husband always being at home, always around,” Kristna Ozturk opened up. “Since Galip has been working exclusively from home for the last few years, we spent time together constantly during the day. At night, when the children were put to bed, we chatted incessantly.”
Today, Kristina is faced with not only being solely responsible for ensuring all 22 children are cared for, but she must do it in a house that suddenly feels empty to her. "Now it's more difficult than ever for me,” Kristina continued in her post. “I can't stand silence, I can't stand his absence, I can't sleep and wake up alone, I can't see his empty workplace... I can't see his smile, I can't hear his voice, I can't feel his embrace."
What happens next for Kristina and Galip Ozturk may very well be in the hands of the Georgian authorities but, assuming Galip is allowed to return to the family, it’s likely to involve a lot more dirty nappies, and a lot more nannies. Some sources have reported Kristina as saying they hope to eventually have 105 children.
That is a target the couple could achieve in just a few years if they continue to use surrogates at the rate they did in 2020 and 2021, but it may take a little longer if Kristina decides she wants to carry and deliver more of her children in the traditional way. However they do it, if Kristina and Galip are allowed to fulfill their family ambitions, there’s no doubt their names will be written into the record books for many years to come. They’ll also need a bigger house!