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Living Wills Glossary

Persistent Vegetative State

A person in a vegetative state is reactive (i.e., responds automatically to a stimulus), but not conscious. Individuals in this state may have their eyes open and may react to pain (e.g., move automatically away from a stimulus), but will show no signs of "awake" brain activity. A persistent vegetative state is one that lasts longer than a few weeks (anywhere from six weeks to three months).