The Christian Broadcasting Network

The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Highway to Healing

By Ken Hulme
The 700 Club"I said, 'God put life in her, put life in her.'" Harold Eaton, of the McMinn County Rescue Squad, recalls praying.

She didn’t expect it. No one ever does. In an SUV like this one, Blanche Hamilton of Athens, Tennessee, moved to the left on Interstate 24 to allow a pickup to enter the highway. But the driver never saw her. He struck Blanche’s vehicle, pushing her off the road at 70 miles an hour, causing her SUV to crash, flip, and even launch into the air.

Blanche's crushed car after the accident"As Blanche was rolling, the vehicle went about six feet into the air, and it rolled about five or six times," Eaton says. "After hitting the tree, Blanche’s vehicle came into the wooded area. The victim’s head and arm were laying outside the driver’s side door with the roof down on top of her head. There was a lot of blood that was coming out of her head and running down the vehicle."

In an effort to free her, rescue workers cut open and lifted off the SUV roof. As soon as they did, Harold realized this wasn’t just another victim, but his friend Blanche.

"I prayed. I told God, 'You can’t take her. She’s too good of a woman, too good of a friend. You can’t take her,'" Eaton told God.

Blanche was rushed by Life Force Helicopter to Erlinger Medical’s Trauma Unit—one of the best in the state. There doctors had to resuscitate and begin to treat her many injuries, including compound arm and rib fractures, a punctured lung, a cervical neck fracture, and a closed head injury.

But Dr. Vicki Turnball, Blanche's personal physician, says that wasn’t her most urgent need.

"Her head injuries were massive in that she had a large laceration, a lot of bleeding," says Dr. Turnball.

The laceration was a 10-inch cut that stretched across Blanche’s head, severing a main artery.

"She lost probably half of the blood in her body," says Dr. Turnball, "and had to receive at least twice that much through her hospital stay.

Doctors performed emergency surgery to repair Blanches scalp and stabilize broken bones. Then they began to report the other problems to the family.

Continues Dr. Turnball, "She had fractures of her neck. Most people are paralyzed when they have a cervical fracture. She was described as having sub-arachnoid hemorrhages pressing on the brain tissue, which could have caused fatal injury."

Peter Nowotarski was one of Blanche's surgeon.

Blanche recuperates in the hospital"Beyond the head and neck injuries, she had severe chest trauma with lung injuries on both sides," says Dr. Nowotarski, an orthopedic surgeon.

While this was happening, Blanche’s family and friends were doing something else. With every devastating piece of news, instead of despair the church turned to prayer.

"We were praying for a God kind of miracle—that God would not just let her live, but that God would restore her completely," says pastor Kevin Wallace.

And that is what God began to do. First, there was no permanent brain damage from the loss of blood and brain swelling. Second, there was no paralysis from the neck fracture. These things God touched more quickly. Other things took time—like the problem of Blanche’s two fractured arms. One was so badly damaged that doctors considered amputation if the swelling didn’t subside.

But as more prayer went up, Dr. Nowotarski decided to try an experimental repair on the badly damaged arm.

"This was a pretty complicated fracture on the left side with the shoulder that required a difficult fracture repair with this modified plate and screw device for the upper arm fracture. The forearm fracture on the left was more or less straightforward," Dr. Nowotarski explains.

The surgery was successful. The arm was saved. But at what cost? Blanche and her family were told it would be a miracle if she got 50-percent of the arm’s mobility back. So she began the grueling and painful task of rehabilitation. For two pain-filled months, Blanche continued to work to regain strength and mobility to her arm. Again, her church and family continued to pray.

"We began to pray, 'God, touch her arms. Let her arms be used as she used them before the wreck.' The doctors said there is no way this is going to happen, but the church continued to pray," says Wallace.

But by Christmas, Blanche decided not to return to rehab. It was just too painful.

Would God let Blanche live with a damaged arm, never to hold her grandchildren? The answer is No. When The 700 Club camera crew came to visit Blanche, we learned that she had never returned to the rehab center but had continued to do her therapy …in secret. So we thought it would be nice to "drop in" on her physical therapist and show him what we encountered when we came to visit Blanche.

God had done another miracle, allowing Blanche to receive not 50-percent mobility to her arm and wrist, but a 100-percent mobility and strength.

"Her strength is perfect. Full recovery!" says Randall Worde, director of Tri-State Rehabilitation and Blanche's physical therapist.

"Blanche has always been very tough," adds Dr. Turnball. "She’s been through a lot in her life, but this was an absolute miraculous recovery. I am really in awe considering her C-1 retable fracture—that’s around the spine. Most people are paralyzed when they have a cervical fracture. Not Blanche. Blanche has made a remarkable recovery.

As for Blanche’s family and friends, They are just glad to have her back in one piece.

"It’s amazing," says pastor Wallace. "It's miraculous to see how God has taken such a near-death experience and received glory for it."

"I feel like I’m a walking miracle all the time," adds Blanche. "Every time I open my eyes up, I am grateful. He walked me through it, and now I’m looking back on it saying, 'I don’t want to go through it again, but I am so grateful that He allowed me to do it and walked me through it. I am a different person and I love it.'"

"I’m very grateful that Blanche is still with us," Blanche's husband, Ernie Hamilton, says.

Concludes Eaton, "A person who took a lick that Blanche had with her head pinned between the door and the room—people just don’t live. People don’t live with the injury she had. It’s a miracle, a miracle of God."

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