There were scenes of joy in Ireland as Nicole Ryan Graham (27), from Limerick, began emerging from a coma in her recovery from a car crash in Kansas five months ago.
The mother of three was transferred from the Meadowbrook Rehab Center in Gardner, Kansas back to Limerick after she started showing signs of serious improvement from the car crash.
She had been benefiting from 24 hour a day medical attention and concentrated, intensive forms of treatment.
Her mother Caroline Ryan O'Connell who was by her side in Kansas and now in Limerick is delighted with Nicole's progress since she went into the rehabilitation centre seven weeks ago.
"She is still surprising me every time I see her," she said.
"She is one tough cookie, right now she has learned to thumbs up for 'yes' and fist for 'no' and she will answer a lot of questions in that way.
"It is really heartwarming to know she understands us after such a long time and all she has been through -- it just melts the heart.
"We have got a few smiles from her. She looks so like my mam when she smiles, I laugh and cry it's really great.
"People would have to understand where Nicky was and where she is right now to know what she is doing is amazing."
The horrific car crash which left Nicola in a coma took place in Kansas on February 8. A court clerk, she has three children: Kendra, Katie and Kellsey, aged between 20 months and 11
Both friends in her native Moyross (Limerick) and across the pond in America have been assisting her in her fundraising efforts to meet the vast costs of the intensive treatment.
The accident happened when she lost control and drove into a wall. The condition of the road was said to have been extremely hazardous at the time of the crash . She’s been living in the US for the past 13 years.