December 14, 2015 6:52 PM EST

A South Carolina mother of 11 children has woken from a vegetative state to find her family cared for by friends, family and strangers.

Tammy Smith, 43, was hit by a semi-truck in October and remained in a vegetative state until Thanksgiving, suffering from traumatic brain injury, cracked ribs and a collapsed lung, People reports. Her husband Bruce was by her side when she opened her eyes and said his name, an experience he compared to watching a child’s first steps.

Bruce has been staying near the hospital at the Hospitality House of Charlotte, where family members can stay virtually for free in the event of medical crisis. While that non-profit has cared for him, family and friends have been running the household and taking the children to events, while a private school near the Hospitality House has donated Christmas presents to the Smiths.

Tammy will likely have a very long recovery, and both spouses have been out of work since the accident. A GoFundMe page has so far raised more than $10,000 for the family’s expenses.


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