At the early stages of marriage, couples are often busy deciding what type of car to purchase, the kind of decor that matches their home’s current motif, or talking about the best time to start raising kids. Unfortunately, when it came to Oklahoma couple, Ryan and Jill Finley, the promise they made together at the altar, in front of God and family and friends, to love and support each other for better or worse, was put to the ultimate test after an unusual medical situation occurred.
Caught up in a dilemma that no person in his right mind would surely want to be in, Ryan Finley made the toughest choice of his life after his wife fell into a coma. But then the unexpected occurred.
A Normal Weekend Like Any Other
Similar to other newlyweds, Ryan and Jill Finley loved spending their weekends together at their home in Jones, Oklahoma, relaxing and enjoying the kind of comfort and privacy that no other place in this world could ever offer them. During his time off from work, Ryan could often be seen on their porch, sitting on a chair and reading the newspaper early in the morning while Jill was still asleep inside the bedroom.
This simple and peaceful routine went on for much of their young marriage until one day when the unforeseen happened. In an instant, everything changed in a way that would forever affect the course of the rest of their lives!
Something Out Of The Ordinary
At this point in time, the couple had already been living together for four years and everything was going smoothly and somewhat according to plan. Ryan worked as a contractor on plumbing projects while Jill was a loan underwriter. They were happy with their marriage and seemed to relish the sanctuary that their house provided them.
After completing his usual morning porch ritual that day, Ryan decided to make his way inside their house. He suddenly felt an unexpected urge to proceed towards the bedroom and awaken his sleeping wife... for a reason he couldn’t explain, but found inescapably compelling. As it turned out, he was fortunate that he followed his gut feeling!
A Shocking Realization
To this day, Ryan still can’t explain for sure why he felt the need to wake up his wife, even though she was sound asleep, just like she was every other morning around that time. However, something was different on that fateful Sunday morning, the 26th of May, 2007. After his gentle attempts to interrupt his wife’s serene slumber received no response, Ryan became more frantic in his efforts, but to no avail.
Ryan resorted to screaming at the top of his lungs, but it still wasn’t enough to stop his wife from sleeping. Ultimately, everything he did was in vain. It then turned for the worse when he realized she wasn't actually breathing!
Doing his best to stay level headed despite the gravity of the situation, Ryan made the most sensible of actions by instantly contacting 911. And while waiting for the emergency response team to arrive, he carefully laid Jill on the floor from the bed and executed CPR all by himself.
Knowing full well that he was in a race against time, Ryan tried hard to remember all the CPR classes he had taken ten years ago but had never been able to practice. He used everything in his power to give the kiss of life to Jill until the ambulance finally arrived.
It Felt Like An Eternity
While waiting for the paramedics, Ryan explained that what was actually a brief string of moments felt like an eternity. In fact, the ambulance got to their house in less than fifteen minutes. The emergency response team immediately took over, leaving Ryan standing outside the room, distressed and hoping for the best possible outcome.
It didn’t take long for the medical team to start attending to Jill, doing their best to revive her through a defibrillator that shot potentially life-saving electrical currents towards her heart. Ryan recalled the sound of the machine, the paramedic’s voice saying the word “clear” and his wife bouncing back to the ground after being hit with the current.
Running to the Hospital
After attending to Jill, the emergency medical response team concluded that she required further urgent care and quickly carried her to the ambulance and drove her towards the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Somehow, Ryan was able to get behind the wheel of his car and follow the ambulance as it ran, as fast as lighting, towards the hospital.
Jill was rushed to the emergency room where a team of doctors immediately placed a respirator on her motionless body. Realizing that Jill was still unconscious and unresponsive, the doctors quickly prepared other possible medical means to revive her and save her from the brink of death.
What Actually Happened?
As Ryan remembered, the doctors spent about 25 minutes bringing Jill back to a stable condition wherein they would no longer have to intervene. It’s important to note that despite all the chaos and commotion that transpired in the emergency room, Ryan still had yet to learn of his wife’s real condition and the reason (or reasons) behind it.
As every precious second went by, the doctors and nurses did everything they could to bring Jill back to life. And because of Ryan’s quick thinking and decision-making to conduct CPR prior to the arrival of the emergency medical team, Jill ultimately started breathing normally and her heart got to working again. The worst was yet to come though. Later, Ryan will be faced with perhaps the toughest dilemma of his life.
Doing Everything Possible
While confined to the hospital, Jill suddenly suffered a heart attack during her sleep and was short of oxygen for almost five minutes. The doctors rushed to her aid and instantly covered her with a “chill suit” and put her into clinically induced hypothermia to mitigate the potential risk of brain damage.
Extensive cooling pads enveloped Jill’s entire body and cold water circulated through them for 24 hours, lowering the temperature level to 90°. The doctor in charge, Dr. Michael Schoeffler, told Ryan that such practice can aid in safeguarding the brain with the assumption that she would soon regain full health. Nevertheless, there was nothing Ryan could do but simply wait and pray.
Going Into A Coma
One day after putting Jill under clinically induced hypothermia, doctors began warming her body back to normal temperature levels. They expected she would wake up at some point in the process, just like other patients normally did. Sadly, Jill just wouldn’t. Succeeding tests showed minimal brain movement, but Ryan still chose to cling on to hope.
During this period, Jill slipped into a coma and was at the bleakest low of her condition. Nevertheless, Ryan remained positive and faithful, and refused to give up despite what everyone said. He summoned every atom of strength in his body so he could remain strong for Jill, the love of his life.
Refusing to Leave Her Side
Ryan was convinced that his wife would pull through and do the impossible, so he stayed at her bedside in the hospital – even sleeping close to her in case she made even the slightest sign of coming back. He remained steadfast and devoted, reading Jill Bible verses every now and then and spending the majority of his time in the hospital lying beside her.
Always holding onto hope, Ryan proved determined to do what was necessary for the sake of his wife, and begged the Lord almighty for her recovery. Several days went by, but doctors refrained from telling Ryan that there was no viable way his wife was ever waking up from the coma. They gave him a single estimate though…
A Bleak Prognosis
As Ryan recalled, everything the doctors told him regarding his wife's condition could be summarized in one word: grim. The medical experts shared with him that in cases like his wife’s, there was a mere 1% possibility of a complete recovery. Regardless of the mathematical improbability of it all, Ryan still refused to admit that it was over.
After hearing the grim prognosis, Ryan was crushed, mentally and emotionally, but he still found the strength to pray to God and opted to write a diary to console himself throughout the nightmare. The words reflected in his diary show a tragic inner unrest, but an unwavering resolve and the deepest love for his wife.
Not a Dream
In his diary, Ryan wrote about feeling that everything was just a dream but then waking up each morning with the painful realization that it was real, after all. With every passing day, he did his best to maintain his poise and cling onto hope throughout the course of the horror, even after the doctors told him there was no hint whatsoever that his wife would ever come back. Ryan was also aware that if his wife did manage to make it through, there was a good chance she would be in a vegetative state, at best partially functioning. Given these possibilities, Ryan was unsure what the future held.
While Jill’s family and friends did their best to be hopeful as well, two long weeks had already gone by and she was still deep in her coma. What’s worse, there were no signs to indicate that she was getting any better. To add further emotional complication to the matter, both Ryan’s and Jill’s parents were forced to weigh and discuss their options given the situation. At a time when he was still just 31-years old, Ryan was faced with perhaps the toughest decision of his life.
Two Weeks In A Coma
Even though Jill's friends and family tried to stay hopeful and full of positive energy, two long weeks had gone by and she was till in a coma, and showing no signs of improvement.
Already in excruciating pain and sadness, Ryan and his in-laws were forced to discuss what to do if the situation didn't improve quickly. Ryan was then faced with one of the hardest decisions of his life.
The Most Horrible Day Of His Life
Lying in bed beside Ryan Finley was the woman he vowed to love and support for the rest of his life, through thick and thin. Although the idea of a life without Jill appeared inconceivable, Ryan was also aware that she wouldn’t want to live the remaining days of her life asleep and motionless in a hospital bed. Nor would she want to wither away in an awake, but vegetative state.
In the end, he was confronted with a decision no husband ever wants to face: whether to turn off his wife’s life support or continue the fight. The day he made his choice was shaping up to be the most horrible day of his life. Simply put, he had to choose whether Jill would continue to live or not. For Ryan, Jill was his world and the love of his life, and the notion of moving on without her was unthinkable.
Remembering What Jill Said
While the Finley’s as a married couple had never discussed such an event nor made any kind of agreement as to what they’d do, Ryan was able to recall an event that gave him some clues as to what Jill’s wishes would be. Not too long ago, his aunt had fallen ill and been placed on life support. Ryan shared an especially strong relationship with his aunt, so the whole experience had been brutal for him. But in that moment, it was the words his wife uttered that he was flashing back to.
Reflecting on that troublesome time, he remembered Jill saying that she would never choose to live such a life. She would rather die than live a life that’s comparable to an inanimate vegetable. In the meantime, the weight of the situation was getting heavier by the moment. Ryan was told by the hospital that he had to begin weighing his options and ultimately make a decision.
An Impossible Decision
Following a long and emotional conversation with his wife’s family, Ryan finally arrived at the conclusion that Jill would never choose to live out her remaining days as a motionless body in a hospital bed. As painful as it was, he was forced to make the heart-breaking choice to turn his wife’s life support off. For him, it was what Jill would have wanted and he would actually be doing her a greater favor by resorted to such a painful decision.
With the help of his wife’s family, Ryan processed the court order required to remove the life support system. Thinking back, Ryan shared that it was the most difficult choice he ever had to make in his whole life. He never expected that, at just 31 year old, he would be capable of pulling the plug and allowing his wife, who was just a year older than him, to die.
By this time, Jill’s doctors had already clarified to Ryan all the possible scenarios once his wife was removed from life support. He was told that the process would be gradual and there would come a point when the patient would exhibit some kind of knee-jerk motions or possibly create unsettling sounds. This response is called the “last rally” and, while it is common in such situations, it can make an already heartbreaking moment even more traumatic for the family.
No experience or life lessons in this world can ever prepare you for such a painful day. However, Ryan and his wife’s family stoically but unenthusiastically made their farewells. Afterwards, the medical staff removed Jill’s life support. Ryan clenched his heart and mind, preparing for the worst imaginable experience. Little did he know what would transpire next.
The Nurses Called Him In
On the 9th day of June, in 2007, Jill Finley was finally taken off life support. Ryan remembered his wife’s entire upper torso contorting slightly, followed by a series of mumbles. The experience proved unbearable for Ryan and the moment the agonizing process began, he bolted out of the room, feeling dizzy and sick.
Ryan was advised by the doctors to refrain from any and all expectations about the unimaginable process. There was just no way to prepare for how difficult it would be to face such a reality. Hours went by and a dispirited Ryan was puzzled and filled with dread when approached by nurses who insisted he should immediately return to his wife’s room.
It had been 11 o’clock in the morning when the life support system was shut down. By approximately 4 p.m., Ryan had been brought back in to Jill’s bedside. The reason? Jill had begun muttering and exhibiting indications of that difficult time the doctors had referred to as the “last rally.”
After witnessing the event, Ryan’s heart sank even further than he thought was possible, as he understood that this was truly the end, the mutterings were his beloved wife’s final attempt at making words, part of a desperate bid to cling onto her life and his love. However, upon listening closely to Jill’s mumbled sounds, it became apparent that this wasn’t what he, or the medical staff, thought it was.
‘Get Me Out of Here’
All of a sudden, Jill began moving and her words started to make much more sense to Ryan. He even heard his wife say, “get me out of here.” But that’s not all. To Ryan’s surprise, Jill then told him to take her to Ted’s and Melting Pot – referring to some of her favorite Mexican restaurants.
Putting into equation what the doctors told him earlier on keeping his expectations low, Ryan began cross-examining his wife to guarantee that the words coming out of her mouth were more than mere reflexes. He slowly discovered that the impossible was unfolding before him.
Caught on Video
Jill was able to accurately respond to any and all questions that Ryan threw at her. She was able to answer both their cat and dog’s name, their telephone number and even their address, in an instant. Amazingly, Ryan was able to capture those magical moments on video using his smartphone.
Just a few minutes earlier, Ryan had been wrestling with the frightening prospect that Jill would no longer be a part of this world or his life. Then, with just a few mumbled words, Ryan became convinced of one thing: what his wife was doing wasn’t just a last rally reflex! While he was no medical expert, Ryan wasn’t wrong. These signs Jill was showing were the opposite of what a last rally usually looks like. Amazingly, even more unbelievable events were about to unfold.
Living In A Dream
To the surprise of all, Jill was apparently breathing and had mysteriously sprung back to life after having been in an unresponsive state for weeks, and off life support for several hours! Ryan was perhaps the most shocked out of everyone who witnessed the miracle, but he was ecstatic, nonetheless. In those moments, he felt a whole lot better about his decision to remove Jill from life support.
Ryan couldn’t believe what had happened and even experienced numerous, terrifying double-takes the entire day. A couple of days prior, he had been trying to remain steadfast after the doctors told him to brace for the worst... but then the opposite came true! For the once devastated husband, it was comparable to the dream state he had felt himself in before. Only this time, instead of waking up to a nightmarish reality, he was waking up to the love of his life, Jill, really being back.
Six Days Later…
Jill surprised not just her loved ones, but her doctors as well, after practically coming back from the dead and waking up like nothing happened. For the baffled medical practitioners, they had never seen, heard or read of anything like what Jill had just managed to pull off.
Just like other people who came back from comas, Jill had no recollection of her time in the hospital. There was one thing she did remember though, and that was being wheeled into a large shower day after day. Beyond that, her memory was completely blank. Nevertheless, what she thought of Ryan’s choice to pull her off life support will surely stir your emotions!
A Different Reaction
Although there are those who might feel devastated to discover that their partner in marriage decided to remove them from life support, Jill Finley wasn’t one of them. In fact, she offered an astonishing response to his husband’s decision. After finding out everything that went down throughout the couple of weeks she was in a coma, Jill said that her husband did the right thing.
For Jill, the the idea of spending the foreseeable future lying brain dead in a hospital bed was unthinkable. That’s why she believed that Ryan made the right decision, not just for her, but for his own sake as well. After all, the doctors had told him that she was going to be a vegetable for the rest of her life.
How Did This Actually Happen?
As it turns out, Jill Finley suffered of an misdiagnosed congenital condition, which was the reason her heart ceased to work while she was asleep that fateful morning. The flow on effect from this, eventually led to her falling into a comatose state. Although the doctors didn’t have any definite answer as to why she miraculously came back from her vegetative state, Jill had no hesitations in summing up the extraordinary events that had unfolded.
For Jill, she had Ryan and God to thank for her recovery. She is genuinely convinced that God responded to her husband’s constant prayers and recounted that a lot of people also prayed for her, including churches, friends, relatives and all of her loved ones.
Relearning Day-To-Day Activities
Ryan, Jill and both their families reflected on their fortunes and were extremely grateful for the second life that was given to Jill. The first month or two after she came back from the coma, however, her progress towards complete recovery was no walk in the park. She had to relearn numerous simple actions like washing her face, dressing herself and preparing meals.
Medical professionals inserted a pacemaker on her heart and Jill had to undergo significant rehab that involved working with an array of therapists and specialists. Despite all of the hardships and challenges that followed, the Finley’s were immensely grateful and they happily moved on from the ordeal with a fresh perspective on life and the world in which they live.
An Entirely New Perspective
Determined to take full advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime second chance that was given to them, Ryan and Jill are now seen together constantly. It’s not to say that the couple didn’t share a deep and intimate relationship before, because they did, but after the life-changing experience, they gained an even better level of gratitude for life and their marriage.
With the new perspective the event gave them, they are able to approach their daily challenges and triumphs in a very different way. After that fateful event, they became inseparable – doing groceries, spending their weekends and doing just about anything in their lives together, hand in hand!
Like They'd Just Been Married
After her astounding recovery from the near-fatal illness, Jill welcomed the intensive rehab that followed with open arms. Even through the frustrating struggles of her speech and movement therapies, the inconvenience felt minor to her. In fact, she was back to her normal self remarkably quickly after rehab.
Seeing the distressing incident with a new pair of eyes, the married couple can even manage to create some laughter out of it. “One of our friends, [said], ‘I’m so jealous. You guys are like newlyweds,’” Jill exclaimed with a laugh during an interview with Today. Ryan has his own unique take on the experience, as you’ll soon see.
It's Only Natural
Looking back at the various episodes that unfolded in the dramatic experience, Ryan exclaimed that he would follow the same set of actions if there ever was a repeat. Given the miracles and blessings that followed after, he says he genuinely won’t make any changes at all, as he is willing to place his faith in the lord once again.
For his valiant actions, Ryan Finley eventually received a nomination for an Oklahoma Heart Hero Award, which is given by the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, in appreciation of Oklahomans who utilize CPR or AED to aid their neighbors or loved ones. While he trusts in God, you won’t be surprised to discover that Ryan still keeps a close eye on his wife and her health to this day.
A Funny New Routine
If you are already familiar with this story and Jill Finley’s amazing road to recovery, you might get a giggle out of knowing that the couple did indeed go on to visit the restaurants Jill cited during her first moments of recovery from the coma.
On top of that, although a vigilant Ryan has enjoyed fewer nights of sleep in the aftermath of the life-altering experience, he has invented a funny strategy to ensure that Jill is doing just fine. He typically kicks her at night if he gets a pang of concern when they’re in bed, and if Jill answers back with a kick of her own, then he knows she’s alright!
No matter how out of the ordinary Jill Finley’s compete recovery from her coma might sound, the ensuing story will show you that such a miracle does occur a lot more common that you might have initially imagined! If you though that Jill Finley’s case was heavily emotional, then your heart may not be able to endure the level of drama involved in the next story. The tale you are about to uncover proves the divine power of the human spirit and its capacity to conquer even the most overwhelming of challenges – even if such a challenge involves more than ten years in a comatose state.
At the tender of age of 12, Martin Pistorius couldn’t have predicted his future. Born and raised in South Africa, Martin was your typical cheerful and high-spirited boy until, one day, his direction in life made an unexpectedly tragic turn.
How It Started
On an otherwise ordinary day in 1988, young Martin Pistorius went home from his classes feeling unwell. It started, innocently enough, with a sore throat, but then rapidly developed into an illness that bewildered doctors. Ultimately, this mysterious illness went on to change the entire course of his life, and those surrounding him, as well.
Soon after, Martin’s health started rapidly declining. At first, there were just flu-like symptoms, but later on, he would suffer from a paralyzing ailment that made him more frail with each passing day. It came to a point when he was no longer able to eat and hibernated for extensive periods of time. Eventually, he would completely lose the capacity to move different areas of his body.
What Was Wrong With Martin?
When the boy’s physical well-being became even worse, both his upper and lower extremities grew so fragile that he completely lost mobility. On top of that, Martin’s memory began to fade, and later on, he would fail to recall even his loved one’s names and faces. Ultimately, he would descend further into a vegetative state, leaving his family and relatives powerless.
So what exactly could be wrong with the 12 year old boy from South Africa? Doctors couldn’t really tell for sure, but they were running on the assumption that he might have been suffering from cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis of the brain. His health practitioners went on to explain to his parents that there was no turning back from such a disease, which meant that there was no chance of a complete recovery. As it turned out, faith would dictate otherwise.
The New Normal
Although doctors told the boy’s mother and father that their child’s intelligence had now regressed to the level of a three month old baby, they rejected any notion of surrender. Martin’s dad automatically served as his primary caregiver and attended to his day to day needs. He even went to the trouble of waking up after a couple of hours every night to turn Martin in his bed and guarantee that he wouldn’t suffer from bed sores. The dedicated dad would also drive the boy to the care home every morning and fetch him back from the place every night.
The same kind of determination and unbending resolve, however, wasn’t present in Martin’s mother. The poor distressed lady grew more and more hopeless with every passing day. She even insisted on putting Martin into full-time residential care, although his father refused to comply.
Not Able To Take It Anymore
The sight of Martin falling into such a miserable state sent his mother, Joan Pistorius, into a crippling depression. It came to the point where she spoke the heartbreaking words “I hope you die”, while looking at her son lying motionless in bed. Everything appeared bleak and hopeless and the brokenhearted mother craved liberation from her suffering. That’s the only reason she felt driven to utter such a horrible phrase.
She assumed her son was unconscious and unable to hear what she had just said to him. Later on, however, she would come to the crushing realization that Martin was, in fact, awake during that moment and heard every word she said.
Coming Back To Himself
Four years later, when Martin was 16, his mind inexplicably started waking up. The boy began to regain a stream of consciousness, gradually recognizing that he was imprisoned inside an inanimate shell of a body. Three years on, after turning 19, Martin regained complete consciousness, although he was still incapable of making any kind of movement.
Unable to speak or move or make anyone around him know that he had regained his awareness, Martin considered the possibility that he might be enduring the remainder of his life in such a miserable state. Although his loved ones and caretakers tended to his needs every day, he felt lonely and as isolated as you can get. Fortunately for him, his misfortune was about to change.
He Actually Hated Barney
Because Martin’s caretakers presumed that he was unconscious, they would typically just let him watch Barney (a cartoon show for kids) on television every day. Martin would later on reveal his great displeasure with the show and the torturous monotony of the daily routine.
One day, one of the boy’s care givers – aromatherapist Virna van der Walt – observed that Martin was responding to her inquiries through eye and head motions. In light of the amazing discovery, Virna urged Martin’s mom and dad to put him in the special care of the Center For Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University Of Pretoria. During his time at the Center, Martin’s parents would witness something unbelievable.
Back to Life!
At the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Martin’s mother and father realized that their boy was far from a vegetable. He underwent a gradual rehabilitation program and was hooked up to a computer that has a special communication function. Ultimately, he was given a way to convey every thought that was trapped inside his mind.
Eventually, Martin Pistorius, at 25 years of age, recovered some degree of control over the upper half of his body. Although his life was still limited to sitting in a wheelchair, he managed to achieve exceptional development. Martin even mastered driving and a whole lot more!
A Good Life
For someone who was supposed to live the entirety of his life in a vegetative state, Martin Pistorius successfully achieved tremendous progress. Through his sister’s matchmaking abilities, love even made its way to his life. In 2009, Martin was overjoyed to tie the knot with his wife Joanna. What’s more, he acquired various skills and landed a job as a freelancer for web design and development.
While Martin still relies on a wheelchair to go about his day, he is now enjoying life to the best of his abilities. Back in 2011, he released a book entitled Ghost Boy, which talks about his unique life and experiences. Unsurprisingly, his compelling tale ended up becoming a bestseller. But the biggest question is, did he ever forgive his mother for what she said to him while she thought he was sleeping?
Forgiving And Letting Go
Do you think Martin was able to find the wisdom or inner peace to forgive his mother after he heard her say, “I hope you die”? When asked about this sensitive matter, Martin’s response was: yes, over time, he was eventually able to forgive his mom. Given how he himself had felt during that dire time, Martin was able to sympathize with his mother’s abandonment of hope. She was unaware that he could hear her – the only thing she could see was a lifeless shell of her treasured boy.
With the wisdom and patience that, perhaps, can only come from having endured such a trying ordeal, Martin succeeded in forgiving his mom for her disheartening remarks. This extraordinary act of forgiveness makes Martin’s true life story even more inspirational!