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Pastor in a Battle to Save His Life

Shawn Brown - 700 Club Producer
Debbie White - 700 Club Producer

In late November 2020, Doug Jansson was a healthy, 43-year-old pastor of a New York megachurch. On December 23, 2020, he was on life support, and his wife was called to say goodbye. The ordeal began in early December when the entire Jansson family contracted Covid-19. Doug’s wife Kelly and his three children recovered quickly. Doug did not. When his labored breathing became life-threatening, he was admitted to ICU at Stonybrook Hospital. 

“A few hours later, I first got a phone call from the doctor saying, 'we’re going to give him oxygen…and hope for the best.' I actually just began to cry, just feeling like we were in a battle for his life," said Kelly.

During the next several weeks, Doug’s condition continued to decline. “I had been asking everyday if I could come in, and they kept saying only end of life," said Kelly.

Yet, long before that dreaded day arrived, Kelly had mobilized a contingency to do battle for Doug in prayer. She put her first request for help on Facebook.

“We were seeing things get worse and worse. People shared the posts and prayer rose up for him everywhere. They were going to fight for Doug’s life alongside of us," said Kelly.

Then, another urgent call came from the hospital. "The doctor called me early and said, 'he’s declining rapidly. Now you can come in,'" said Kelly.

When Kelly entered Doug’s hospital room, she had no intention of saying goodbye. 

“I just started to pray over him and speak life. I left with an overwhelming assurance that he was going to come home to me and I asked to speak to his two doctors and said, 'don’t tell him one thing that will make him feel you’ve given up hope.' They said, 'He’s very sick, be prepared for the worst,'" said Kelly.

That’s when Kelly asked the doctors to place Doug on a ventilator.

“The doctor looked at me and said, 'If I put him on a ventilator, he’s never coming off.' I said, I said to him, 'I believe that you are going to see a miracle.' God just deposited in me that overwhelming assurance He was going to raise him up and draw many to Himself through a miracle. I took every phone call from the doctor, every negative word under the truth of the verse, God can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted," said Kelly.

The growing throngs of intercessors around the world and Doug’s family and friends agreed. Doug would not die. They held 24-hour prayer vigils, sang Christmas carols at the Janssons’ front door, and circled the hospital in “a prayer parade.” Medical staff prayed too, put scripture verses on Doug’s walls, and made sure that Kelly could see and pray with Doug by phone.

“I was able to facetime with Kelly and we were able to pray. The whole hospital was really rooting for him," said April Plank, DNP. 

Doctors placed Doug on a ventilator but removed it within 24 hours after they determined it was not helping Doug breathe and might even make him worse.

“On Christmas Eve, I was able to facetime with Kelly, even though Kelly had great faith, I just knew he was going to go home to be with God. My prayer was, 'God just let him make it to the 26th so his family won’t always equate Christmas with his death,'" said April.

“And then I got another call from a surgeon who said, 'your husband is not doing well, but I want to put him on life support …EKMO life support and this is his best chance at living,' and I said, 'let’s do it.' Some of our closest friends in the medical field said, 'oh no, this is it, there’s no way he is going to make it.' I said, 'this is the miracle we have been praying for,'" said Kelly.

Four days later, Doug had a huge setback: a massive internal bleed. That’s when the risks of EKMO outweighed the benefits. He was removed from EKMO and placed back on a ventilator.

“He wasn’t close to being out of the woods, yes, he’s off life support but now facing the huge hurdle of coming off the vent so he was still in ICU and every day was like a rollercoaster. The one hour he’s doing well, next his oxygen levels dropped. I kept telling my kids, 'God took daddy through EKMO and he’s going to bring him off the vent,'" said Kelly.

A week later, Kelly says she experienced one of the most joyful moments of her life.

On January 4, I got a text message from him, 'Baby!', to me and my heart leapt, and I started to weep. For the first time in weeks, I had a text from my husband. On Jan 5 I received a text from Doug that said, 'they might take me off the ventilator!' We were screaming and praising and yelling and rejoicing that he was off the ventilator and breathing so well," said Kelly.

Doug immediately recorded a message to thank everyone who prayed him through his harrowing ordeal.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for battling for me and my family through all of this. You guys prayers helped saved my life," said Doug from his hospital room.

On February 2, 2021, Doug Jansson left Stony Brook Hospital, winding through throngs of cheering well-wishers, to a joyous reunion with his family. After several months of rehabilitation, Doug was back at home with his family and back in the pulpit of his church. But the Jansson’s say it’s far from business-as-usual. Their lives will never be the same.

“I’ll think back to the fruit and I’ll see loved ones who came back to Christ. And just see what God did in my own heart. There is just a whole new understanding of suffering. My kids being able to say they saw a miracle. I would go through it all again," said Doug.

One of the things I think I walked away with is to not let go no matter how hopeless things are looking, we have a mighty God and He wants us with tenacity of faith. Not let Him go and not stop looking and keep knocking, keep praying and not give up," said Kelly.


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