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Glastonbury musician's first request is KFC after coming out of coma

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

  • Sam Boughen requested KFC from his hospital bed

  • Sam with his fiancée Saffron and their daughter Lottie at their home in Glastonbury, Somerset

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A family who spent weeks waiting for critically ill drummer Sam Boughen to write his first words on a special app as he came out of a coma were stunned they were asked to order drumsticks – from KFC.

The 26-year-old overcame a catalogue of illnesses thanks to expert medical care, a liver donor and the support of his family, who were at his bedside as he came back from the edge of death.

The Glastonbury-based musician proved his sense of humour had survived his terrible ordeal by making his first words a cheeky order for some fried chicken instead of a message of love to his devoted family.

Sam went through two liver transplants in three months after being diagnosed with liver disease as the result of a genetic disorder.

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His father, Martin Boughen, 53, donated 60 per cent of his liver in January to save his son’s life but two days after he was discharged from hospital, Sam began to feel unwell.

A blocked artery meant that Sam’s new liver was not getting enough blood. Shortly afterwards, the family’s worse fears were confirmed – Sam’s new liver had failed.

“Within hours, I was classed as critically ill,” said Sam. “Twenty-four hours after that, I was on life support.”

Sam went back onto the transplant list, and his family were told to prepare themselves for the worst.

In the early hours of April 15, a new liver was found from a donor. His exhausted body endured a nine-hour operation.

Shortly afterwards, doctors discovered Sam had an e.coli infection, as well as a life-threatening lung infection.

Doctors were forced to play a balancing game with his medication as the drugs that could treat the lung infection put his new liver at risk.

Again, his family were told to expect the worst, and Sam remained in a coma for eight days until he stabilised.

But as he came round it was clear the effects of his near-death experience had a massive psychological effect.

He spent three weeks in a psychotic state before he managed to bring himself back to reality.

“It was my daughter, Lottie,” said Sam. “I just needed to get back for her.”

A tracheotomy left him unable to speak, and he used his iPhone to communicate with his family, who rarely left his side at the hospital.

“We had an app that meant he could write what he wanted to say,” said dad Martin.

“We all held our breath the first time he started writing. We thought he would tell us that he loved us, but instead he asked for a KFC.

“Then we knew we had Sam back, along with his sense of humour.”

Not keen on hospital food, friends and family couriered rolls from Burns the Bread to help him put weight back on.

Sam is now back in Glastonbury with his fiancée, Saffron and daughter Lottie.

He goes back to Kings College Hospital in London once a week where his progress is monitored. He hopes to be able to write to the family of the person whose liver gave him life.

As well as the support from medical professionals at Kings College and Derriford hospital in Plymouth, Sam and Martin have also received huge support from the local community, including Sam’s bosses at Strode College, and Martin’s employers at Thales.

While Sam and his family are all exhausted by the events of the last six months, Sam has plenty to look forward to.

He is due to marry Saffron next year and hopes to return to his beloved drum kits soon, with a view to touring with his friend Nick Parker in Germany at the end of this year.

“It’s a sad statistic that while 96 per cent of the population would accept an organ if they needed one, only 30 per cent of the population are registered as organ donors,” said Martin.

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  • Mjsix  |  July 17 2012, 10:51AM

    This is a great story, but in a manner reflective of the current five-ring themed sports event in the national capital (don't think I've contravened any copyright laws there) brands have pushed their way to the forefront of our attention. Brands see every mention of their name as free coverage, and PR agencies, who are paid to place content like this, or 'draw the reporter's attention to', are rewarded handsomely for producing coverage which, because it isn't 'an advert' is even more valuable. I've enjoyed chicken convenience food myself on many occasions, but let's not give it credence beyond that; let's not further the brand placement by referring to it as anything other than convenience food, or poultry-based convenience food, or burgers and fries, or carbonated sweetened drinks. We owe these vast, hugely profitable commercial enterprises nothing; they would like us to believe we owe them everything.

  • MikeRosenfeld  |  June 29 2012, 7:39PM

    I really hope that Sam is well on the road to recovery now. Best wishes to him and his family - and so inspiring that his Dad donated half his liver!!! I don't think that the KFC references detract from the story, or turned it into a joke. It's only two sentences in a story thats 22 paragraphs long, and it made me smile. It's great that Sam retained his sense of humor after all hes been thru!!!

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  • uptheport  |  June 29 2012, 10:55AM

    It is a fantastic story, and I can understand why the two comments feel it has cheapened the article and the message. However, it's quite a unique headline, so you wonder/hope a lot of people who wouldn't normally read the story would look at it, therefore spreading the more serious message that comes across in the majority of the article. I know I only read it in the WDP out of curiosity after seeing the headline and pic, and got to read an inspiring and touching story in the process. Love them or hate them, headlines are there to grab the readers attentions, I'm sure this was the aim, and not to promote KFC. Secondly, and most importantly, best wishes to Sam and his family after what I'm sure has been a tough and challenging time. Clearly your strength and love as a family has got you through. Tremendous.

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  • LauraJT  |  June 29 2012, 9:59AM

    I think it sad that the journalists have turned what was a very distressing time for all involved into a story highlighting a fast food chain. You have used the only small detail that detracts from the aim that Sam had if sharing his story to raise awareness of organ donation. Also the importance of joining the register! The press have turned his heartfelt story into something joke like which I can assure was no laughing matter. You have lost the message and should be ashamed! Sam and his family were incredibly brave and wanted to share their story for the benefit of others and not for a cheap promotion of a bargain bucket!!!!!!

  • mboughen  |  June 28 2012, 9:11PM

    A great story ruined by references to fast food. Knowing how many photo's were taken to support this touching story I'm saddened that it was one advertising that was used. Hopefully the real message of courage, hope and love faced by Sam and his family with consideration about the donor registration won't be lost on the readers.