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CBN.com It was August 26th, 2002, in St. Augustine Florida. Andrew and Matthew Carrera were waiting for their dad to take them to school. They wandered into the woods to look for a baseball they had lost the day before. Without warning, a nightmare began.
"I heard Andrew and Matthew come screaming, running out of the woods. Andrew said, 'Rattlesnakes have bit him! Rattlesnakes have bit him," Matthew's father, Dion, recalls. "When Matthew ran up to me, he was just screaming, 'Am I gonna die, Daddy? Am I gonna die, Daddy?' I just grabbed him, and I slung him in the truck. Andrew jumped in the back of the truck, and we nailed it. We just took off."
Dion Carrera knew there was no time to waste. He sped toward the emergency room at times over 100 miles per hour. He and Andrew prayed for seven-year-old Matthew. Time was running out.
"When I saw him start aspirating, and his whole body just went drenched wet, and he looked at me and he said, 'Daddy, dont let me die,' and his eyes rolled up in the back of his head, and he fell over onto the floorboard, thats when I punched it even faster."
The emergency room team worked desperately. They had to start an IV in Matthews bone just to get antivenin into his body. A helicopter stood by to take him to the critical care unit in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I looked in the doctor's eyes, and in my mind I thought, 'This guy's scared.' I called one of my friends and just started crying, because I knew at that point they were really trying everything to save him," says Dion.
When Manita, Matthew's mother, heard the news, she began to pray. "I went in the bathroom, and I started praying, 'God, I know he isnt going to die.'"
Matthew was airlifted to Wolfsons Childrens Hospital in Jacksonville. He had been bitten not once, but five times by Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes. Matthew was not expected to live through the night.
Matthews body was in shock. The venom began destroying the tissue in his leg. His kidneys and liver showed signs of failing. They covered him with cold blankets to keep his temperature down, and his heartbeat was dangerously high at nearly 200 beats per minute.
Perhaps the most difficult part for Dion and Manita was seeing the effect this was having on their sons body.
"His whole body was swollen," Manita explains. "All you could see were the tips of his eyelashes. There was no form to his nose. His tongue was just protruding out of his mouth."
"As soon as I walked in I just started crying," Dion recalls. " I just bawled because I didnt know who the kid was. It didnt look like our kid at all."
Doctors continued pumping antivenin and medicine into Matthew, but nothing changed.
Meanwhile, something else had developed: an outpouring of community support. Following a national news report, cards and letters poured in with one overwhelming message 'Get well soon. Were praying for you.'
"By the end of the day, there were people calling from everywhere, preachers that we didnt know from churches in Jacksonville coming in," Manita says. "It was just prayer coming from everywhere, and everything was about prayer."
At times Matthew appeared to get better. Then he would relapse. In total, doctors injected 80 vials of antivenin into Matthew.
"I was crying so hard and holding myself on my stomach," Manita recalls. "I looked at my mother-in-law, and I said, 'I cannot imagine not knowing God.' I could not because the pain was so unbearable. It was so frustrating."
But Matthew held on and was finally well enough to leave the hospital. The recovery was slow and complications developed. The wounds where the venom had eaten away the muscle required constant cleaning. But Matthew and the family pushed forward in faith and prayer.
"People were constantly praying," Manita says, "and it was just amazing to me the power of prayer. I believe that there were people praying and crying out for Matthew that loved us, and their prayers reached the Lord just as much as if there was a group at an alter praying for Matthew. I truly believe that. I believe that God hears our prayers no matter what."
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