Val Thomas: Second Breath of Life
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
At 1:30 in the morning, Val Thomas woke up suddenly with severe chest pains. She called her sister, Sheila.
“The phone rang and I saw what time it was, and I thought, ‘well, something is wrong,’” Sheila said. “I thought maybe Val was going to tell me something had happened to Mom or our brother. And she said, ‘Sheila, can you come over?’ I said, ‘yes, what’s wrong?’ She said, ‘I’m having bad chest pain and I’m sweating profusely.’ I said, ‘yes, I’ll be right here.’”
Val called an ambulance, and then her son, Tim.
“Of course, any time a phone rings that early you, you know, may assume, something’s wrong. I left immediately,” Tim said. “About five minutes after I left, my wife called me back and she was crying. She said, ‘I’ve lost contact with your mom.’”
When EMS and family members got there, it was already too late. Val had suffered a massive heart attack.
“I went upstairs. I was still calling her name and she didn’t answer,” Sheila said. “When I went in the bedroom, then to the bathroom hallway, she was laying face down on the floor. Her skin was grey, and all I could say was, ‘oh, my God.’”
“When I went upstairs, the paramedics were already working on Mom, doing CPR. She was already graying and I turned around and laid hands on her and started praying,” Tim said. “I said, ‘Mom, if you want to go home and be with Jesus . . . go.’ I said, ‘go home.’ Immediately after that I said, ‘Lord, she is in your hands.’”
At the hospital, Val was placed on a machine called the Arctic Sun, which lowered her body temperature to prevent further damage to her organs and body.
“The odds were against her. The numbers and statistics show that, especially after a cardiac arrest, less than five percent ever get discharged from the hospital. Patients that do have an outcome are in a persistent vegetative state,” Dr. Kevin Eggleston said.
Val suffered two more heart attacks over the next 10 hours. The BIS monitor, which measured her brain waves, showed zero activity.
“Dr. Eggleston come back and said, ‘you need to make some decision,’” Tim said. “I needed confirmation that what I was about to do was the right decision; that’s to take Mom off of life support because the doctor said that’s the only thing keeping her breathing.”
Family members prayed for God’s direction.
“I said, ‘Lord, I need confirmation. I need confirmation right now, Lord, that what I’m about to do is the right thing. If there’s any chance, don’t let me make this decision.’ And I got a sense of peace, and other people in that room felt that same peace that the confirmation I was getting was definitely the right decision,” Tim said.
They decided to turn off the ventilator and end Val’s life.
“They shut the machine down. When they started to take the tube out, they said Mom’s left arm and left leg moved,” Tim said. “They automatically thought that that was just the nerves. She took the lead off and she said, ‘Mrs. Thomas, I’m so sorry.’ You know, how you just talk to yourself when you’re doing something. Mom coughed. And then she answered; Mom said, ‘that’s okay, honey,’ and the nurses just went crazy. And then she said, ‘Where-where’s my son?’”
Hospital staff quickly called Val’s family.
“She said, ‘she’s breathing on her own. She’s got a pulse. She’s got a blood pressure and she’s responding to every command that we ask her to do. She’s moving her extremities,’ and she said, ‘I think you need to get back up here,’” said Daniel Pence, Val's nephew.
“I was overwhelmed when we got the call and said that she was alive again. I didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh and I think I did some of both,” Sheila said.
“I had no idea what took place, you know, when I first woke up,” Val said. "My family started telling me little-by-little what took place. And I do remember seeing a glow or a light at the foot of my bed.”
Hospital staff immediately ran tests on Val.
“They were amazed and they told me pretty much everything that my family had already told me. They did tell me that my heart was like a brand new heart. It was nothing – they did not see anything wrong. Nothing. And I was talking to them and they were amazed I was talking as well as I did,” Val said.
“I was at a different hospital and nurses paged me and I had to rush back over to see it for myself, because it was certainly an amazing feat and a miracle,” Dr. Eggleston said.
Val was eventually transferred to Cleveland Clinic for further testing.
“They couldn’t believe that my heart was in the condition it was when I went to Cleveland Clinic after what had happened. They didn’t find anything wrong either,” Val said. “He said, ‘medicine could not have done this,’ or ‘doctors could not have done this.’ And I said, ‘yes, it was a miracle from God.’”
“There are things that physicians and nurses, we can’t always explain; and I think this was one of those cases,” Dr. Eggleston said.
“You go from ‘you’re getting ready to lose your mom’ to ‘losing your mom’ to ‘she’s come back to life,’” Tim said.
“I thank God for bringing me back so that I can do what He wants me to do; and my son, Tim, it’s incredible the change in him as a result of what has happened to me,” Val said. “Every morning when I get up I thank God that I have another gift from Him. Every night when I go to bed I thank Him, I say ‘thank you God for this beautiful day.’”Can God change your life?
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