Doctor Calls Near-Death Experience a 'Miracle'

After no brain waves for 17 hours, woman wakes up.

ByABC News via logo
May 24, 2008, 8:48 AM

May 24, 2008 -- Velma Thomas' heart stopped beating three times -- and her doctors thought she was dead.

She was taken by ambulance to a local West Virginia hospital when her heart stopped after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. For more than 17 hours, Thomas had no measurable brain waves, according to her doctors.

Doctors tried everything to save Thomas' life, even inducing hypothermia in an attempt to lower her body temperature and stimulate the brain.

Her family said their goodbyes and left her side at the hospital to make funeral plans.

But after medical staff took Thomas off life support, she miraculously came back to life.

"I said, 'God, just show me something,'" her nephew, Daniel Pence, told ABC News.

"There were really no signs she had neurological functions," Kevin Eggleston, an internist, told ABC News.

"There was no life there," her son, Tim Thomas, told the Charleston Daily Mail. "Her skin had already started hardening, her hands and toes were curling up."

Family members made the difficult decision to take Thomas, 59, off life support.

"We just prayed and prayed and prayed," Tim Thomas told the Charleston Daily Mail, "and I came to the conclusion she wasn't going to make it. ... I felt a sense of peace that I made the right decision."

After their goodbyes, medical staff took Thomas off her respirator.

"There was no heart beat," Tim Thomas told the Daily Mail.

Family members left the hospital to make funeral arrangements.

That's when they say a miracle happened.

Ten minutes after the medical staff stopped the respirator -- while nurses were removing the tubing -- Velma Thomas woke up.

"She moved her arm, and we thought it was reflexes," Pence told ABC News.

Nurses hurried to call Tim Thomas, who was already a few miles away, on his cell phone.

They told him that his mother was moving and had a heart rate, Tim Thomas told the Daily Mail.

Velma Thomas had moved her arm and foot, then she coughed and moved her eyes. Amazingly, Thomas began speaking.