Back from the Dead: Man's Faith 'Stronger Than Ever'
DAYTON, Ohio -- Thirty-seven-year-old Tony Yahle is thankful he could attend church services with his family.
"It feels great," Tony told CBN News. "I was always a believer, but I mean it's a whole new level now."
Yahle came back to life after being dead for 45 minutes. Word of his miraculous recovery made headlines around the world, astounding the medical community and turning skeptics into believers.
In the early morning on Aug. 5, Yahle had difficulty breathing and went into cardiac arrest.
"It was 4 a.m. and the Lord woke me up -- something woke me up -- and I heard his breathing and as a nurse I knew it was not correct," his wife, Melissa, told CBN News.
"I turned on the light -- tried to wake him up, he wouldn't wake up. I took his pulse. He didn't have a pulse, and I just went into my training and did CPR," she said.
Tony was rushed to the emergency room where he later coded. Doctors worked on him for 45 minutes trying to save his life -- he was later pronounced dead.
His family was shocked and heartbroken.
"I felt like my stomach dropped. I was crying," his daughter Kiersten said. "It was overwhelming, shock, lots of grief."
While nurses prepared the body for his family's final viewing, Melissa kept on believing for the impossible.
"My 17-year-old cousin, who is a preacher, laid his hand upon me and the Lord spoke through him... from that moment on I knew, I knew it would be alright,'" Melissa recalled.
Pastor Paul Santoro and his wife, Jennifer, were at the hospital with Tony's family.
Santoro said he had recently been teaching on the power of prayer. The couple had also begun talking to Tony's 17-year-old son, Lawrence, about the things of God.
"I distinctly remember watching him with his elbows on a desk and he had his head down -- he was praying. And then the doctors came in and there was such grief and Lawrence jumped up and he went to the wall and he hit the wall really hard," Jennifer Santoro said.
"I saw Lawrence as he turned to the wall shaking his head -- all of a sudden he straightened up and it was as if he'd just had a second wind come into him," she continued.
Refusing to accept his father's death, Lawrence said something extraordinary: "I said, 'Dad, you're not going to die.'"
"I spoke against the spirit of death in my prayer and I asked the Lord to give him life to -- to call him," Pastor Santoro recalled. "And when I did that Lawrence runs out into the hallway and we're actually in agreement -- Lawrence was declaring -- he pointed at his dad that his dad would live."
Immediately Tony's body began to show signs of life. Five days later, he fully awoke with no signs or heart damage or any defects.
"Doctors say I had not even broken ribs," Tony said.
Hospital officials have no medical explanation for his miraculous recovery, but they agree there was divine intervention.
"I think that with the power of all that prayer and all the things that were being done for him it's the perfect coalescence of God in our lives and the gifts that he gives us that we should be sharing," one hospital official said.
News of his resurrection has spread around the world.
"People who doubt are going to say it's just medical; people who believe are going to say 'it just proves what I already know to be true,'" James Schultz said.
Tony said he doesn't remember anything about death -- no white light, visions of heaven and no answers why this happened. But he said his faith is stronger and more real than ever before.
"God steps in when man can do no more -- and they literally came to the end and said we can do no more and they pronounced me dead -- that's when He came in," Tony said.
The family also wants people to worship God -- not the miracle.
"Our God is an awesome God," Lawrence said.