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Man's Heart Stops Beating for 55 Minutes

Robert Hull - 700 Club Producer

“The diagnosis alone for pancreatic cancer was devastating. I just felt there was no hope. I really felt there was no hope at that point.”  In 2013 Beverly Dunn’s husband, Tony was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Beverly is a nurse and knew the odds of long-term survival were slim. She says, “Usually when pancreatic cancer is found, it's found way too late. I didn't really see an outcome for it other than death from this earth.”

Two months later tony underwent a Whipple procedure – a radical surgery that removes parts of the stomach, pancreas, gall bladder and small intestine. Tony’s son Justin says his dad was eager to go home after the surgery. “Every time we visited, he was-was always focused on doing what he had to do, getting up and walking around to do what he could do to speed his recovery along as quickly as he could, so that he could get back to – get back to normal life.”

Unknown to everyone, Tony was allergic to the blood thinner Heparin. The day he was to be released tony struggled to breathe due to clotting in his lungs, then he suffered a pulmonary embolism. Nurse Bill Bolton was there when Tony’s heart suddenly stopped beating.  Bill says, “There was no pulse and he was not breathing on his own. If the nurses I was working with and myself if we stopped pumping on his chest he didn’t have a heart rhythm. He was essentially dead.”

A team of doctors descended on Tony’s room in an effort to revive him. Meanwhile calls went out to family and friends to pray for tony. His daughter Tara remembers getting the call. “I fell to the floor. And I just cried out uh, ‘Please, Jesus.’ And that's all I could say. I just knew that there was power in that name.”
 
Beverly remembers, “Our family and friends were beginning to gather they were in the room with us. They were wall-to-wall people that had heard what was going on and joined us. Prayer was what we had. And we knew that God would hear us.”

Tony’s son Justin says, “And I knew that our Creator, all powerful, had the ability to intervene in my Dad's circumstances right then. And in-in my heart I was still holding on to hope.”

But thirty minutes into the code, a doctor came out to update the family. Beverly says, “He said to me that nothing they were doing was working. Uh that they couldn't get a heartbeat and that there was nothing that was working.”

As lifesaving measures continued Beverly and Justin were allowed into the room. Justin says, “It was very apparent during those few moments in the room that, they were doing everything in their power to give my Dad a chance to live.”

“I felt like Tony was already gone.” Says Beverly, “his eyes were open, they had a glazed-over look uh as if nothing was there. But I bent down to him and I asked him, ‘Just please don't leave. Just don't leave.’ at that time I wasn't ready for him to go.”

Fifty-five minutes after Tony’s heart quit beating, his doctor came out of the room once again to talk with Beverly. She remembers, “He had a really puzzled look on his face, a really questioning look on his face. And he said, uh, ‘You have hope. We have a heartbeat.’ Uh almost like the words that he was speaking, he was hardly believing.”

Miraculously, Tony’s heart was beating on its own again. But now, more challenges lay ahead as tony faced the possibility of brain damage due to lack of oxygen during the code. Nurse Bill Bolton explains, “The longer a code transpires, or the more time that goes on during the code, the more likely that the person that is being coded is gonna have some kind of uh brain injury due to not – to not efficient compression of the heart.”

It was nearly certain he would have some level of brain damage. Three days later tony started moving his hands as if trying to communicate. His daughter Tara got a paper and pen. She says, “Beverly asked him if he knew what had happened and why he was there and he wrote, "Pulmonary Embolism." With perfect handwriting and perfectly spelled, and we're all just looking at each other going, ‘How is this even possible,’ you know, nobody anticipated that at all.”

Beverly says, “At that point we knew uh, he's all there. We're just waiting for him to-to progress forward and we'll talk to him in a little bit.”

To the doctors’ amazement, Tony survived without any brain damage. Family, friends and hospital staff were amazed at how God was with them and had answered their prayers. “God intervened in everything we needed for his healing.” Beverly says.

“The promises that he gave two thousand plus years ago are still relevant today. Where two or three are gathered, He will be there. And He was He showed up in a big way.” Says Tara.

“My own personal feeling was that it was a divine intervention that God was saying I’m not done.” Says Bill Bolton.

More than five years have passed since his surgery and miraculous survival. Follow up scans have revealed Tony is cancer free, with no need for chemo or radiation. He says he’s thankful for new life, in his body and his soul. “I have a confidence in God that I didn’t have before and it goes beyond faith. Faith is what you don’t see, and it’s as though now he made my faith sight, and I’m thankful to God for what he’s done.”

Beverly says, “I am so thankful for believers in prayer that were around us, that took us to God.”

Justin says, “We felt the love of God because of their presence, and because of their willingness to serve our family.”

Tony agrees, “I do believe that the key to what happened with me rests in the faith of those who’ve surrounded me. They fought for me when I was unable to fight for myself.”

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