Phillip Tweety, the 74-year-old missionary critically injured Oct. 8 while riding his mo-ped, has emerged from a coma.
On Thursday, Tweety’s doctor told his wife, Janie Tweety, that responses to stimuli are signs of his progress.
After being discharged from Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Tweety began receiving physical therapy this week at Select Specialty Hospital on Walton Way. He uses a feeding tube and cannot speak but moves his legs and right arm. He can wave his hand and smile.
“He’s coming along day by day. They say little steps at a time,” Janie Tweety said. “I want to talk to him again. I want him to hold me. I’m so excited I don’t know whether to cry or to laugh.”
On Thursday, Tweety sat up in a highback wheelchair for more than two hours. Doctors say they won’t know how much brain function he retained for about a year.
“There are days when he’s wide awake. You think this is a great day, then you have a couple days that are just sleeping,” his daughter Cheri Yoho, of Canton, Ohio, said Tuesday about her father's recovery.
Yoho, one of Tweety’s seven children, has spent several weeks in Augusta since the accident. She squeezes her father’s hand, and sometimes he will squeeze back.
For decades, Tweety traveled around town on his bicycle – and most recently, a mo-ped – distributing his money to needy people. He and his wife, who were affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were returning home after missionary work when he was hit by a truck on Deans Bridge Road.
His wife, who was riding alongside and received scratches from the crash, has spent every day and night at his side. She kneels for prayer below a large, bright window in his hospital room.
“That window is my looking-glass. It says hold your head up and pray,” she said.
The Tweetys give 10 percent of their income directly to people. They approach shoppers at Walmart stores in Augusta, North Augusta and Aiken who seem to have little in their carts and might need more.
The family is encouraged by his progress, and Janie Tweety hopes they will return to missionary work, riding bikes.
“I’m hoping and I’m praying. It’s all gonna work out because God’s still with him,” she said.