Prayer Saves Teen at Death’s Door After He Smacked into a Tree
July 26, 2016, was a terrifying turning point for young Isaac Ealy, a resident of Annville, Kentucky. His first lapse when mounting the ATV was not wearing a helmet. Initially, the 16-year-old was in control of the vehicle. Then suddenly, he smacked into a tree, his head absorbing the brunt of the impact.
Isaac’s grandmother received the petrifying call that he was severely hurt. As emergency personnel airlifted Isaac to UK Hospital, he appeared lifeless. Brain scans showed extensive damage, and Isaac’s neurosurgeon said the prognosis was poor. If the boy survived, he would likely remain in a vegetative state.
Isaac had suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). When a person incurs a blow to the head, brain tissue rams the inside of the skull. In response, fluid accumulates, causing internal pressure to build. Injured tissue undergoes neurological changes, typically rendering a comatose state. The condition can drag on for weeks. Some people never regain consciousness.
Regrettably, in North America, TBI has become commonplace. Each year, over 1.7 million people are diagnosed, with 60 percent caused by motor vehicle accidents. According to TraumaticBrainInjury.net, the tragic effects of TBI can last a lifetime, with a lingering disability.
Immediately following TBI, the priority is to control bleeding and fluid pressure. Repair of damaged brain tissue requires surgery by a highly specialized medical team. A patient’s basic life systems must be monitored and managed by medical equipment. A person remains in a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) until their condition is no longer life-threatening.
In the ICU, the medical team fitted Isaac with a neck brace and connected him to life support. Seeing the injured boy was gut-wrenching. Most of his facial bones were crushed. His entire face was swollen, particularly beneath his eyes where the skin had ruptured. The rear section of his head bore a long arc of stitches.
Isaac needed surgery to stop the fluid leaking from his brain. He required plastic reconstruction to restore his disfigured face. For the time being, he would remain on a ventilator, keeping him breathing.
Isaac’s family felt helpless. In despair, they bonded together in faith, creating a Facebook page. Titled “Pray for Isaac,” the Ealys appealed to the Facebook community to petition God for a miracle. Heartfelt replies flooded the website. In time, over 6,000 people joined to pray for the boy’s recovery!
Although a TBI patient may be unresponsive, doctors believe they remain aware of people, events, and their surroundings. Once a patient’s condition is stable, physical therapy (PT) begins. Damaged brain regions must restore nerve connections for the injured person to regain function. Trained medical professionals guide this process.
If a patient does emerge from a coma, rehabilitation is grueling. They may need to re-learn physical abilities, such as standing, walking, and manipulating objects. Speech therapy addresses the inability to speak. Impaired short-term memory compounds the challenges.
Often, Isaac’s mother would lay her hand on his chest and utter a silent prayer. The PT staff visited regularly, moving Isaac’s limbs and doing range-of-motion exercises. On August 2, six days after the accident, Isaac had a significant milestone. At the request of his physical therapist, he was able to wiggle his toes!
On August 8, “Team Isaac” took birth. One Facebook member volunteered to create a T-shirt supporting the cause. The inspiring garment is blue with white lettering. Across the front, large text shouts the words “Team Isaac.” A biblical quote marches across the back, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Facebook members have jumped at the chance to buy the T-shirts online.
Four days later, on August 12, Isaac left the ICU for the Progressive Care Unit. That same day, Isaac surprised his mom by squeezing her hand! On August 16, Mrs. Ealy posted a specific Facebook request, “Please ask God to enable Isaac to open his eyes. It’s vital to his recovery. Thank you.”
Meanwhile, Facebook was the vehicle for another miracle. While reading Isaac’s story, a young girl named Brooke asked Christ into her life. Immediately, she felt God touch her heart, and chills ran down her spine. Subsequently, she attended a church that confirmed her conversion.
On September 5, three weeks after Mrs. Ealy’s Facebook request, Isaac’s right eye squinted. By October 25, both eyes had opened substantially. Now, his progress skyrocketed! On November 1, after three months of hospitalization, Isaac was discharged home.
A March 2015 article by Newsmax validates the healing effects of prayer. Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University states, “Research shows that prayer helps sick patients recover faster.”
As an example, Dr. Koenig cites a 2010 study published in the Southern Medical Journal. Vision and hearing impaired patients received intercessory prayer, followed by testing. Though lacking medical treatment, all showed substantial improvement.
Another study conducted at San Francisco General Hospital assessed the effect of prayer on 393 heart patients. Strangers prayed for half the participants. Following surgery, they needed less medication and had fewer complications. They also healed faster and were discharged sooner than the patients who didn’t receive prayer.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Koenig is now spearheading a study with Johns Hopkins University. WebMD describes the project. Researchers will follow 80 women with early-stage breast cancer. Half the subjects will be assigned to a prayer group, each comprised of eight women from their local church.
These patients and group members will pray for each other. They’ll also support one another by sharing concerns. The study will last six months, monitoring patients for changes in their immune function. The outcome will be quite telling!
The online King James Bible cites 25 verses where God promises that our prayers for healing will be heard and answered. Here are comforting scriptures from the book of James:
14 Is anyone sick among you? Let him ask the elders of the church to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name.
15 The prayer spoken in faith will heal the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, God will forgive them.
16 Confess your faults, and pray for each other to be healed. The fervent prayer of an upright person is powerful.
On September 12, Mrs. Ealy wrote, “I’m so grateful for Isaac’s salvation experience. About three weeks before the accident, he was river-baptized.” With prayers continuing to flood Facebook, she believes Isaac’s progress will continue. The boy’s rebound is a miracle.
Good and Getting Better
Previously headed for death from TBI, Isaac can now walk with assistance and speak when prompted. Therapy is improving his memory. He enjoys having company and attending church. Nightly, he embraces his mom and conveys his love in sign language. Life is good and getting better every day.
The Ealy’s testimony raises four critical points for each of us:
Life is fragile and precious, and we can lose it in a moment’s time.
Always protect yourself when using a motor vehicle, whether an ATV, motorcycle, car or truck. For riding ATVs and motorcycles, helmets are mandated. Automobile drivers and passengers must wear seat belts.
Raise your concerns and needs to God in prayer.
Pray for others, including friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers.
God answers heartfelt prayers, even those sent by the Internet!