She Coded and Went to Heaven
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LaTonya recalls, “When I heard the physician tell my parents that it doesn't look good. And to pray for a miracle, I knew then that I was in for the fight of my life.”
It had been three days since LaTonya Faison was diagnosed with shingles. Now the 45-year-old was in a hospital bed with kidney and acute liver failure. Without a transplant, she would die. But finding a donor in time would not be easy.
Executive Medical Director for the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill – Dr. Chirag Desai explains, “Thousands of the patients who are on the waiting list and only 50% end up getting a liver transplant usually, within the one year or so. We can say that maybe just a 10% chances of the survival within the next 30 to 90 days for her without a transplant."
Her parents and other family members were with her when she got the news and were asking God for a miracle. LaTonya remembers, “I was so ill and so, so sick that I couldn't, I couldn't verbally pray for myself. So, I guess that’s when God came in and looked at my heart and knew that I needed help. I needed prayer.”
Soon after, doctors put LaTonya on life support in a medically induced coma. They also put her on the donor wait list for a liver and a kidney. LaTonya’s daughter, Morgan, who was twelve at the time, remembers seeing her mother.
Morgan shares, “She had a bunch of tubes coming everywhere, bags coming out of her. And it was just terrible to see her like, I've never seen her sick like that. And it was very scary. But my prayers were that she sees me graduate.”
After twenty days, LaTonya was brought out of the coma with no improvement. By now, 80% of her kidney function was lost and she was placed on dialysis three days a week.
Dr. Desai recalls, “Both organs were failing, liver and the kidney, and typically that happens when the patient gets the acute liver failure, then other systems in the body also starts reacting.”
Then it got worse. LaTonya developed sepsis, was hemorrhaging, and had fluid in both lungs. Then one day, she coded. Even in her comatose state, LaTonya remembers something special, “The monitors started frantically going off. I could feel myself being lifted out of my body, hovering over my body, and looking down at my body on the hospital bed. I heard my mother saying, ‘Oh my gosh, no, Tanya, please don't go. Don't go.’ I remember being in a place that was so beautiful and the peace that surrounded me surpassed any type of peace that I could have ever experienced here on earth. I had no worries. I had no cares. I just felt an abounding love. And I heard in the background, I could hear a voice say, 'It's not your time yet, you have to go back.' And at that moment I transitioned back to my body.”
Then a heartbeat. Dr. Desai shares, “Many patients don't survive this code, especially when they are sick with the other disorders. So it's a miracle that she pulled out through this code.”
The family and countless others continued to pray. Then a miracle. LaTonya went from the bottom of the national donor list to the top and within two weeks a matching donor was found for her liver and kidney. Before her surgery, LaTonya had a specific prayer for God. LaTonya shares, “I've got a daughter that needs me. She needs me. And I'm just praying that you can get me through this surgery successfully with no complications. God kept speaking to me and telling me that everything would be just fine.”
On January 11th, 2017, LaTonya’s team of doctors began the 13-hour surgery to replace her kidney and liver. Dr. Desai says, “This new organs are like miracles. So she received both those organs. She was in the ICU, she did very well.”
Morgan recalls, “I was very thankful. Trust me I wanted to run and jump on her and give her a hug. But when she came out she was very weak, but I was very thankful.”
After four weeks of rehabilitation, including anti-rejection medications and continued dialysis, LaTonya’s kidney and liver were working as expected. She was released from the hospital on February 8th, 2017 on her 46th birthday. The only danger now was whether her body would reject her new organs.
LaTonya says, “My prayer to God was that my body wouldn't reject these organs. And that God would keep me healthy so that I can be here to at least see my daughter graduate from high school and off to college.”
Six years later, through prayer, and the unselfish generosity of others, those prayers were answered.
Morgan shares, “I'm so thankful for the donor and their family because my mom, she was able to see me graduate from high school and in three more years she will see me graduating from college with a master's degree in psychology. It doesn’t look like she had a double transplant and those prayers definitely had something to do with it.”
Dr. Desai agrees, sharing, “She's doing extremely well. Your outcome is between you and the donor who donated. So they need to cherish this and thank God for this.”
LaTonya continues rehab therapy and her anti-rejection medications. She’s still going strong.“Prayer is powerful and prayer is what kept me here, and it's keeping me going. I can say to others who are, who may be going through a crisis, always keep the faith. Don't give up. God can do all things.”
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