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Surviving Sago miner continues recovery

MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby talks to the wife and doctors of Randal McCloy about his "miraculous" recovery, on the two month anniversary of the Sago Mine tragedy.
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It's now been two months since the Sago mine disaster where 12 miners lost their lives. The lone, surviving miner, Randal McCloy is still undergoing rehab at a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, but is getting better every day. 

Rita Cosby, host, 'Live and Direct,’ spoke with Anna McCloy, Randal’s wife and his doctors about his recovery. 

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

ANNA MCCLOY, WIFE OF SAGO MINE SURVIVOR:  He's joking and conversing with me and the children, like he would at home, and just being the old Randy. 

RITA COSBY, HOST, 'LIVE AND DIRECT:  And he actually is getting a sense of humor again, which I think is incredible.  How surprised are you to see this? 

MCCLOY:  I'm amazed, because he had a really good sense of humor at home.  He was always laughing and joking, and I was afraid he was going to lose that, but it's there.  And it gives me hope, very strong hope. 

COSBY:  Have you talked at all about what happened? 

MCCLOY:  He has mentioned a few things about the accident.  And, you know, he remembers bits and pieces of what's happened to him and everything.  I've not actually come out myself and questioned him or brought it up when he talks about it.  I listen to him and talk with you about it.  And then, when he is ready to talk to the full extent of the accident, then I'll be there to listen. 

COSBY:  Does he talk about wanting to go home and spend more time in the home? 

MCCLOY:  Every day he mentions about going home, every day. 

COSBY:  And I understand he's getting a little bit of an appetite. 

You're helping him to eat, right? 

MCCLOY:  Yes, yes.  He does not like hospital food. 

COSBY:  He doesn't?  What is he eating? 

MCCLOY:  Fast food.  You know, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald's, anything that I find different, to feeding Applebee's. 

COSBY:  How amazing has it been for you?  Of course, I hear that when you walk in the room, his eyes just light up.  I mean, that must just be so wonderful for you as a wife to see. 

MCCLOY:  Yes, yes, because I was so afraid before from the beginning that that personality and that character who makes Randy him wasn't going to be there, because, you know, with brain injury, your personality and character can change.  And with him, it has not.  So I have the most important pieces of him here. 

COSBY:  Are you surprised at his progress?  You know, a lot of people didn't know if he would make it. 

MCCLOY:  Yes, I'm surprised, at one point.  But then, really in the back of my mind from the get-go, I've always believed that he was going to recover, because, you know, God's there to help him.  He helped him through the mines.  He's going to help him through this.  And Randy is strong-willed and determined; he's not going to stop. 

COSBY:  I understand you haven't also gone home since all of that.  Why is that?  I hear that it's sort of beautiful reason. 

MCCLOY:  Well, no, I haven't been home.  Today will be two months since I've been in my own home, because our home is family.  You're there.  You live there together.  You stay there together.  And, right now, Randy is not there, we'll go home together as a family, like it should be. 

COSBY:  In terms of recuperation, how is he doing with his progress, Dr. Buindo?

DR. RUSSELL BUINDO, HEALTHSOUTH MOUNTAINVIEW HOSPITAL:  Oh, his progress is amazing.  He has sincerely transformed.  He went from a young man who was, again, badly injured, severely injured, not responsive at all to anything.  He was basically in a near coma or minimally responsive state.  He was not able to be aware of anyone around him, or at least every time we checked him. 

And then you look at him this day, you look at him this morning—I just examined him earlier this morning—he's able to articulate.  He's able to express himself.  Clearly, he does have some mild memory difficulty still, and he has some challenges still ahead of him.  But his recovery has been miraculous. 

COSBY:  Doctor Bailes, has the family support helped and how much more does he have to go? 

DR. JULIAN BAILES, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, naturally, the family support has been integral from the very beginning.  And we talked about that and certainly encouraged it, not that we could have kept Anna away if we could have tried, but we didn't want to. 

This is an injury to the white matter of the brain.  He lost the myelin sheaths that's well-known with carbon monoxide poisoning.  We did think and hope that it was reversible, because that's been reported.  It's just that Randy was the longest known survivor of that kind of exposure, to our knowledge. 

And so we had a great challenge.  And at WVU hospital, at rehabilitation, every staff nurse, and physician, therapist have all played a tremendous role in this remarkable recovery.  And I think we can safely say with certainty that he's way ahead of schedule of what we thought he would be. 

COSBY:  You know, Anna, how are you holding up through this ordeal?  It has been beautiful, just your love and support for your husband. 

MCCLOY:  Well, from the beginning, it was very hard, because, you know, of course you don't expect something like this to happen to you.  And it was just like a dream.  I was expecting to wake up from this dream and, you know, and it to be all over, but it's getting better now that he's able to conversate, and know me, and know the kids, and that makes it a lot easier.  It makes the process a lot easier. 

COSBY:  Well, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And it's so wonderful to see you again.  And keep up the wonderful work you're doing for your husband. 

A fund has now been set up for anyone wishing to help with the cost of Randal McCloy's recovery.  Donations can be sent to Randal McCloy, Jr., Fund, care of Clear Mountain Bank, 1889 Earl Core Road, Morgantown, West Virginia, 26505.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.