Don Mathews' inspiring story begins on the night of his 21st birthday party in September 1998. A successful student at Sam Houston State University, Don was celebrating with some of his college friends at a lake house on Lake Livingston.
Don and his date were on their way to their vehicle, completely unaware of any threat of danger, when Don was attacked by several strangers. Don turned around quickly to defend his date but was almost immediately knocked out by a strong uppercut to the jaw. His attackers continued to beat him relentlessly, even though he was unconscious, repeatedly kicking and jumping on his head and face before leaving him to die.
Don sustained massive trauma to the head and was admitted to a local hospital. There, his family found him severely injured, his face disfigured by countless heavy blows that had left him almost entirely unrecognizable. Don was transferred to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center where he remained in a coma for almost three weeks and was given only a 50 percent chance of surviving. After regaining consciousness, he was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital until he was qualified to come to TIRR Memorial Hermann.
Even after coming out of the coma, Don had a long road to recovery. In addition to his more visible injuries, he had suffered severe brain damage resulting in significant short-term memory loss. Still, he worked diligently relearning how to walk, talk and take care of himself. And as he progressed in his recovery, he decided he wanted to continue his schooling and applied for admission to Texas A&M University.
After his acceptance, Don began working to earn a bachelor's in leadership and development. It was a challenging path which would take him 14 years to complete, but in the summer of 2012 Don graduated from A&M with his bachelor's degree and two minors, in English and educational psychology.
Today, Don is pursuing a career in sales with the Walmart corporation and attributes his ability to overcome life-threatening injuries and regain his independence to his loving family's constant support and unwavering faith. Don continues to exceed expectations and pursue new challenges with dedication and perseverance.
For the 32nd consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 2 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.Learn More
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