When 14-year-old Taylor Hale’s family gathered around her bed in the hospital room, it was to kiss her goodbye. Doctors said she was brain dead and wouldn’t be coming back. They thought their little girl was gone, but that’s when a stranger entered the room and approached her bed.
It all began after Waukee High School’s first football game of the season. Taylor Hale was in the driveway of a friend’s house, laughing and having a great time. When one teen in the group decided to leave, Taylor and another friend jokingly tried to stop him. They sat on the hood of his car and told him to stay. In good fun, he backed up a bit — but that was all it took for Taylor’s whole life to change.
Taylor fell and struck her head on the pavement. Hard. Her friends began to panic when she didn’t move, and someone called 911. Taylor was rushed to the hospital, where she was put under a medically induced coma in hopes it would help her heal, but the prognosis was poor. Taylor went from being a high school cheerleader and “spunky little thing” to lying unconscious in the intensive care unit of Des Moines’ Blank Children’s Hospital, according to NBC.
About a week later, Taylor’s condition got even more serious. She suffered a brain hemorrhage, and part of her brain had sunk into her spinal canal. Doctors said she would never wake up. “No one comes back from that,” the doctors told Taylor’s parents, Stacy Henningsen and Chuck Hale. Sadly, nothing more could be done. Their daughter was brain dead. It was time to make arrangements to take her off life support and discuss organ donation. Or so they thought.
That’s when Jeff Stickel entered her room and changed everything. Jeff is a chiropractor, but when he saw Taylor’s hopeless condition, he decided against working on her. The devout Christian man felt moved to do a more important job. As her family was assembled to say their final goodbyes, he asked if they would join him in prayer. Jeff placed his hand on the unconscious teen’s neck, and the family bowed their heads.
Later that day came the moment that Taylor’s parents had to accept her fate. But, when doctors removed her life support, something amazing happened: Taylor began to gasp for breath. Doctors reconnected her life support in total disbelief. For the next several hours, Taylor started showing visible signs of improvement. Her brain activity picked up, her eyelids were aflutter, and for the first time in a week, she was trying to talk.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Taylor, considered brain dead by medicine and science, awoke from her coma. Obviously, her family stopped planning her funeral and organ donation since their little girl was back. Instead, they began scheduling rehab. “It was the hand of God at work,” Taylor’s father told USA Today. “That’s the only thing that can explain it.”
Taylor’s recovery was a long one, filled with many difficult challenges — like re-learning to walk and talk, and catching up on lost days at school. She missed most of her freshman year in the Waukee school district, but a tutor helped her keep up with her class, which frustrated Taylor. “I was angry because I used to be able to do this stuff by myself, and now I couldn’t,” Taylor said.
But, without a doubt, the biggest obstacle was her lack of memory. Prior to her near-fatal accident, everything is a blur. All memories from her childhood have been erased. “I don’t remember my childhood,” Taylor said. “I look at my pictures, and I recognize that’s me, but I don’t remember anything.”
Taylor Hale has fought her way back to life, and she’s proudly thriving as a normal teen. She’s learned how to drive, she attended prom, and she graduated on time with the rest of her class. But, despite all of the challenges she’s faced — and is still facing — Taylor will always look back on her recovery as “The hand of God.”
Now, this brave girl is more determined than ever to live a happy, successful life. “I’m not a person who is going to quit because I can’t do something,” Taylor said. “I don’t give up.”
Although Taylor Hale is grateful for the efforts of the medical professionals who helped her, she attributes the fact that she is here today, breathing and heart-beating, to a higher power. “I’m always thankful to all the doctors and nurses and therapists who helped me get better, but God did most of the saving,” she said, beaming with gratitude.
The power of prayer is often understated, but it should never be underestimated. It can restore faith, heal the sick, comfort the lonely, restore relationships, and bring those who are lost back home. Whether all is well in life or you’re down on your luck, it never hurts to look up and pray.