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Prayer Unlocks Woman’s Mind from Traumatic Injury

Bruce and Helena Ausink were driving down I-95 through a rainstorm on the way to a family reunion in July 2018, when their car hydroplaned and hit a tree. Bruce and their three young daughters weren’t hurt, but Helena was knocked unconscious.

“At that moment, like everything changed. I knew that she was seriously hurt. I did not panic. I just right away like opened her mouth, listened for her breathing, checked her pulse. I felt a faint pulse. She began to take gasps, kind of like intermittently.”

As Bruce held his wife’s head still, another motorist called 911. Moments later, an ambulance arrived. Helena was intubated and rushed to Nash Emergency Care Center in Rocky Mount.

“I think they were concerned right away about her making it. I just remember just constantly, you know, asking God, you know, petitioning the Lord and saying, ‘Father, protect her, be with her.’”

Time was critical, but with the Medivac crew grounded due to weather, she had to be taken by ambulance to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, over forty miles away. By then, she was in a coma and on a ventilator.  

“They explained she’s had a serious traumatic brain injury. Her brain’s swelling. Her body’s shut down because of that, ‘cause it’s trying to self-preserve. She was non-responsive. And that wasn’t a good sign. And it was that… at that point that I was in the-the-the moment of despair.”

Doctors put Helena on medication that would keep her sedated and allow her brain to heal. Meanwhile, Bruce sent out a call to prayer over Facebook. Friends and family from all over the country joined with him to pray.

“I was very, very, concerned that she wouldn't make it. Or if she does make it, what level of functionality is she going to come back to? I didn't know or have any idea what the future looked like at that point.”

After a few days, the swelling in Helena’s brain had gone down, and doctors began weaning her off the sedatives to see if she would regain consciousness.

“With her beautiful personality, it was extremely difficult to look at her and-and, you know, reflect upon where she is right now versus where she was. It would just prompt me to pray.”

After a week they took Helena off the vent.  

“And so, for that hour and some change, it was just amazing. And I felt such victory in that moment. Then, she started like struggling to breathe and it was like a coughing type thing. And they had to put it back in. I was there for that, and that was - it was an emergency actually to put it back in.  And so, that was another very difficult time because here I thought we were, you know, on the fast track to success and then we're put right back where we were.”  

In fact, it was looking worse. Doctors scheduled a tracheotomy to insert a tube in Helena’s windpipe to get her off the ventilator and allow her lungs and airway to heal, but her loved ones didn’t give up.

“That became like the big prayer focus, you know, let's pray that she can be extubated and not have a trach.”

Then, the day before the tracheotomy, doctors decided to try one more time to take Helena off the vent. This time, it worked.

“When it was successful, it was just a huge, huge praise report.”  

But Helena still needed prayer and healing. When she was transferred to Riverside Select Specialty hospital for rehab four days later, she still couldn’t speak or walk, and doctors weren’t sure if she would ever fully recover.

Dr. Renee Moss recalls Helena’s case: “Her Glasgow coma scale, which is a scale of severity, the best you can get is fifteen and hers was three at the initial scene, which is totally impaired.”

Nurse Liz Altiere met Helena right after she was transferred. “When I first started taking care of her, she couldn't talk, she was in the bed; had restraints on. She had a feeding tube in her nose.”

Then, just two days after being transferred…

“‘I walked through the room and I said, ‘Hey, girl.’ and she said, "Hey," in this little raspy voice. She didn't know my name, but she knew exactly who I was.’”
Bruce was thrilled at the change in her. ‘“When I came, the first thing I say, go over close to her and give her a kiss and say, ‘I love you.’ And that one time she said, "I love you too." It was so faint. And I just exploded! I was like, ‘Yeah!’”

Liz says Helena progressed quickly. “By day five, she was walking a little bit with a walker, getting up and down to the chair, following commands, having short conversations.”

After just over three weeks in rehab, Helena went home!

“It was just beautiful to have her back and to have her back in the kid's life,” Bruce recalls.

“The biggest thing is that I was thankful I was alive,” Helena says. “I was just so grateful for that, that I was there for them.”

Nine months after the accident, Helena completed a 5k run while five months pregnant. Later, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Josiah Lee.

“Most people have some sort of deficit,” Liz notes. “Helena does not have any deficits. She drives, she exercises. She probably could run a marathon tomorrow. I mean, that's just kind of how she is and that's how she was before the accident. So, it's pretty miraculous.”

“Without prayer, without a miracle, she wouldn't be functioning like she is today, may not even be here,” Bruce agrees.

‘“Whenever I met someone who would come up and say, ‘We prayed for you while you - after your car accident happened.’ I would say, “Thank you so much for your prayers. Your prayers moved the heart of heaven on my behalf.”’

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