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Saved from the Jaws of Death

Ed Heath - 700 Club Producer

It was early in the morning on July 15th, 2020 when Ailyn Tan was awakened by her husband, Jim, who was making strange noises. Ailyn recalls, “So, I nudged him, and I said, ‘Hey, you didn't wear your CPAP.’ And there was still no response.”

That’s when Ailyn, a critical care nurse for 26 years, pulled open the curtains to check on him. She says, “He was mildly purple. His eyes were open, darted to the upper left-hand side, and he was foaming in the mouth. And so, I gave him a quick slap on his cheek. And he wouldn't respond to me. At that moment I thought he was having a stroke.”

She shouted to her daughter, Simone, to call 9-1-1. Ailyn recalls that seconds later, “This was the moment I saw Jim's eyes roll back and just like having this glazed look on his face. And I felt for a pulse and there was no pulse.”

Ailyn realized the signs didn’t point to a stroke, but to a heart attack. She and Simone lowered Jim to the floor and Ailyn quickly started CPR. Ailyn says, “I knew I was losing him with each minute that was passing by.”

After a few chest compressions Jim’s tongue slipped back, blocking his airway. Ailyn grabbed a rolled-up towel and placed it under his neck forcing the airway clear. She continued giving CPR praying she could get a pulse. She says, “I remember distinctly talking to the Lord that, “this is not how I want him to go. Not this way. This is not the last time I'm gonna see him like this." And every minute counts when you don't have a pulse.

Eight minutes later, paramedics arrived and shocked Jim’s heart. The portable monitor showed he was in VFIB, meaning his pulse was weak and erratic... Ailyn knew it was a pre-cursor to cardiac arrest. She says, “The first thing that came to my mind was, I felt I had already lost half of him. The chances of him coming back was very – it was tiny, the chances.” EMTs shocked Jim again yet couldn’t get a steady heartbeat. Ailyn says, “At this point I remember taking a step back towards the door, because I was like, ‘Oh, he's gone.’"

Then, a third shock gave Jim a small, steady pulse. Ailyn recalls, “His right hand came up to his chest, like clutching his chest in pain. And so, this gave me hope, because I knew that was purposeful movement.”

Now stable, Jim was rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Even though Aiyln worked at the same hospital, she wasn’t allowed to go in because of Covid restrictions. She stayed home and started texting family and friends to pray for her husband.

She says, “My greatest worry was what if he has brain damage? What if he becomes paralyzed? What if he becomes dependent on a ventilator and has to be institutionalized? I was just numb at this moment. I really didn't feel like it was happening. I couldn't believe what was going on. Like I was just standing there and I'm like – I still couldn't process it, that this is all happening.”

A short time later the cardiologist called and informed Ailyn that Jim was stable and awake. Although his arteries were clear, they had to put him on medication to make sure his heartbeat remained steady. That afternoon the two were able to Facetime with each other. She recalls, “That was probably one of the happiest moments during the whole entire day, was to talk to him over the phone. Because that was my greatest concern and fear was damage to his brain. And he was actually making sense. Tired but making sense.”

However, Jim still needed prayer.  Unsure of what caused the attack, doctors took him off medication and observed him overnight to see if he would go into VFIB again. Ailyn recalls, “I sat on the floor of our kitchen floor, and that's when I sobbed. That was the first time I actually cried that night. I was so scared that he was gonna arrest again, even if he was in the ICU, it was no guarantee they were gonna get him back.”

Jim made it through the night without incident. Jim says, “I felt really weak when I woke up. Scared a bit, but more or less on the concerned part. But somehow I just put it on the Lord. I said, ‘Lord, you're in control.’” His doctors determined there was an electrical issue with his heart, so the next day they transferred him to a different hospital where he was fitted for a pacemaker and defibrillator to prevent further attacks.

On July 18th, just 3 days after the incident, Jim was released to go home. He says, “God literally plucked me out of the jaws of death. I just feel blessed. I just feel loved by the Lord. I just feel loved that our family is loved. My family loves me. And that God is in control.”

Ailyn recalls, “For him to actually come home and to physically see him come home was a joyful part of the journey. We were just so excited. I guess because we knew that a couple of days ago, he would have been dead.” That’s because at the time of the attack, the family was supposed to be vacationing in a remote area of Croatia where rescue help could not reach them in time. Instead, they had stayed home because Covid restrictions had forced them to cancel the trip. Jim says, “We don't believe the word in coincidence. It was a miracle.”

A few weeks later, Jim was again enjoying his daily 5-mile walks, his family, and his life. The Tans believe he’s a walking miracle and share about God’s goodness every chance they get. Jim says, “God is alive. God works today. He exists. He will never leave you or forsake you. Just trust Him.”

Ailyn echos, “I just want to remind people that our God still reigns supreme. No matter what the news tells you, no matter what you see in the world, no matter how cold the world seems to be, that doesn't change the fact that He is still sovereign.”

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