updated 1/28/2006 9:05:04 AM ET 2006-01-28T14:05:04

With a little help, the sole survivor of the Sago Mine disaster stood for the first time since the accident, and puckered his lips when his wife asked for a kiss, doctors said Friday.

Randal McCloy Jr., 26, came out of a coma earlier this week.

“In this business of taking care of severe head injuries, little things make us happy,” Dr. Julian Bailes said.

McCloy can make noises when doctors cover his breathing tube. Whether he will be able to speak when the tube is removed depends on the extent of the brain damage he suffered from carbon monoxide during his 41 hours trapped underground, Bailes said.

Twelve fellow miners died after the explosion Jan. 2.

Doctors described McCloy as being within “moments if not hours from death” when he arrived at West Virginia University’s Ruby Memorial Hospital on Jan. 4.

Transfered to rehabilitation center
On Thursday, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center. He stood for the first time that day with help from medical aides, and later puckered his lips when his wife, Anna, asked for a kiss, said Dr. Russell Biundo, medical director at HealthSouth Mountain View hospital in Morgantown.

“There is definitely a better connection with her than anybody else,” Biundo said. “What we all want is a connection so that when I say, ‘Lift one finger,’ he does it. Boom, then we have a party.”

Also on Friday, lawyers for the McCloys sued The National Enquirer and the supermarket tabloid’s parent, America Media Inc., to block them from republishing a photograph of the injured miner in his hospital bed.

The complaint contends the tabloid paid Randal McCloy’s brother, Matthew, $800 to take the photo, and claims it was an invasion of privacy because the miner was in a coma and could not consent, The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg reported.

The suit seeks at least $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

The tabloid has no plans to republish the photo, its lawyer, Jay S. Bowen, said in a letter.

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