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Son's Miraculous Survival Proves the Power of Prayer

On September 21, 2011 Tammie Mask got a devastating phone call about her 20-year old son Stephen.  “My sister-in-law was like, ‘Meet us at the hospital.  Stephen has collapsed.’  I didn’t realize it was that bad. I didn’t realize that he had actually died,” said Tammie.

Earlier that day, Stephen got together with friends for a pick-up football game at their high school alma mater in Lufkin, Texas. In the middle of a play, Stephen fell suddenly, face first on the field.

“Everybody ran over there to him. We turned him over slowly, he was foaming out the side of his mouth. Luckily, Miss Jewel, she was a nurse, she was over there walking around on the track,” said Stephen’s friend Darrion.

“And as I was on my way over I kept thinking, ‘Lord, please let him be okay.’ He was cold and he was clammy. I kept doing compressions. The panic was real,” said Jewel.

Jewel continued CPR until paramedics arrived and found Stephen in full cardiac arrest. On the way to the hospital, they got a pulse.

“They took me to the room where Stephen was and he was hooked up to all these machines. I just started begging God not to take my child, to take my life instead,” said Tammie.

But doctors said there was nothing more they could do for her son. He was life-flown to Houston Methodist Hospital where a team of physicians were ready. Doctor Khan was Stephen’s cardiologist.  “He was comatose, he was intubated, he had a breathing tube and he was on some drips to get him going,” said Dr. Khan.

Doctors determined Stephen had been clinically dead- -without oxygen and a heartbeat for over 20 minutes. Stephen’s heart was enlarged, and nearly 90 percent of his brain was severely damaged. If he survived, doctors said he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.  “It’s like someone has just stabbed you, you know, you've been stabbed in your heart, you know, that's your baby laying there.”

“It was very tough to see him hooked up to all kinds of wires and machines you know, and monitors. It was just devastating. But I had faith that he would recover,” said Stephen’s father Stephon.

With no time to waste, the Mask family called on their church, family and community for prayers and support. Three days went by with no sign of progress. Stephen developed a staph infection in his lungs. But Tammie and her family didn’t give up.

“I felt as if God wanted us to fast. So I asked everyone on Facebook– would they please fast and pray for Stephen, that God would spare his life, and not only spare his life, but restore him, make him whole. And that's when God just started working one miracle after another one,” said Tammie.

After only a day of fasting for Stephen, his lung infection cleared up and Stephen came out of the coma.

“I was just so, just grateful, just thankful. Just a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness to Jesus.”

By day three of the fast, doctors said his heart was returning to it’s normal size and functioning at 80 percent. “The doctors, they were like ‘We don’t know what to say. We cannot explain this. His heart is fine.’ They said ‘We can't explain it.’ And I kept saying It's God."

Eventually, doctors performed heart surgery to implant a defibrillator.   Then, on October 15th 2011, Stephen was released to begin rehab. Soon he was speaking.
“He said ‘Where is Bree?’ his sister, because they were really, really close. And so when he started walking those were his first words.  Any little progress he’d make, writing his name – even though he would write his name backwards. He had to learn to brush his teeth.  He had to learn to do everything.  Every step he made was like – it was joy.

On November 18th, 2011, nearly 2 months after his heart attack, Stephen went home.

“Oh wow!  It felt so good because he had been there for 55 days.  Just to have him home and we can take care of him.  So as a family, we worked to try to help Stephen get to where he needed to be.”  Stephen doesn’t remember what happened that day on the football field but one part of his recovery is unforgettable. “I remember a few of my friends and close friends and classmates and family all in the hospital, in my room praying for me.  It made me feel loved,” said Stephen.

Stephen continued to make steady progress while undergoing therapy for speech and memory. Although he still faces some challenges, Tammie says he is fully functional. They share more of his testimony in their book called Another Slam Dunk.

“He's the greatest.  He was able to heal me. I feel like I’m just a new person, been put on this earth,” said Stephen.

“The power of prayer is real,” said Jewel.

“He wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn't for God,” said Darrion.

“I know God answers prayer. Prayer works. Prayer works,” said Stephon.

“He wants us to trust Him, even when you can’t see it, it doesn’t look good. All he wants us to do is trust Him and have faith,” said Tammie.

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