Australian Story: June 12

Australian Story this week presents “I Am Sam,” a follow up to a story 6 years ago when sleeping tablet Stilnox brought miraculous results to stroke victim Sam Goddard.

Seven years ago, a series of strokes left Sam Goddard completely incapacitated and unable to speak. He was just 23. But Sam and his family don’t take no for an answer and they searched the world seeking a ‘miracle cure’. When, against medical advice, they gave him the controversial sleeping tablet Stilnox, no one could have predicted the remarkable results.

I am not a risk taker. But for Sam, yes, I am prepared to take risks. Thank God I did it and thank God as a family we did it together. Leslie Goddard, mother

It’s a miracle. For 15 months I was trapped in my body. I could not communicate at all and now I can. Sam Goddard

Sam’s story went around the world very quickly. The reaction was stunning. John Goddard, father

Australian Story first followed the story of Sam Goddard six years ago, when his family and fiancée Sally Nielsen had just started experimenting with the controversial sleeping tablet Stilnox.

Our cameras documented the extraordinary results: Within 15 minutes of the drug being administered, Sam went from communicating via groans to talking lucidly and clearly.

“I have been blank. I have been in a dark place,” Sam said. “I’m talking, I’m talking, I’m talking.”

But the drug worked only for an hour. As the effect wore off, Sam’s speech deteriorated and he retreated back into his dark place.

“It’s very difficult to comprehend the fact that I can talk now and in an hour or so I won’t be able to talk at all. It sucks,” Sam said.

“It would be like being in a prison that he couldn’t make noise from, couldn’t move from. I think for him it would be torture,” his brother Josh Goddard said.

I Am Sam continues the story of Sam Goddard and his family’s ongoing efforts to help Sam recover his powers of speech and movement.

They have been trailblazers, travelling overseas for off-label treatments not approved in Australia and even experimenting with illicit drugs.

“There’ve been some hills to climb and falls down the other side,” his father John said.

“Yes, there have been ups and downs but I still wouldn’t have missed any of it.”

And along the way there has been heartbreak.

He and his former fiancée Sally Nielsen are now ‘best friends’.

“The situation that we have just meant we couldn’t be together,” Sally said.

“We still love each other incredibly and I think that will always be there.”

Sam’s brother Josh has now stepped up as Sam’s main carer as Sam faces a new battle.

“I’ll swear and carry on like a pork chop and I’ll make him smile and I want him to feel as much joy as he can for the time that he has,” Josh said.

I Am Sam is a life-affirming account of a family’s love and determination in the most devastating circumstances.

Monday June 12 at 8pm on ABC.

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