To pull, or not to pull the plug. That is the question many people have to answer time and time again. It’s a sad reality, but true nonetheless. The Pellettiere-Swapp family had to do it. They were forced to make the painful decision to pull their loved one off life support. Fortunately, their story made a miraculous turnaround.
Lyndee was found totally unconscious in their home in Arizona by her son Steven. He panicked. She was only 45 years old and in good health as far as they all knew. This made no sense at all. He immediately called 911 and an ambulance came to rush her to the hospital. But the doctors were helpless.
Lyndee suffered seizures for five days and then fell into a coma. Through it all the doctors were clueless. After twelve heartbreaking days, they told the family that there was nothing more they could do. Her family was then advised to turn off her life support. They knew that Lyndee wanted to be an organ donor, which made the decision they had to make a little easier.
Lyndee would later explain:
“My family knows I am an avid organ donor so when my organs started to fail, they made the decision — it was time to make that decision.”
To pull was their answer – in honor of Lyndee’s wishes. One by one, each of the family members visited Lyndee to say their farewell. Little did her family know, Lyndee heard every word they said, and she had been since she fell into the coma. Though she couldn’t move or speak, she was aware, from time to time, of what was going on around her — a phenomenon known as being ‘locked in’.
“I remember people talking to me. I remember when people came to visit, my niece reading to me.”
She knew she had to speak up in order to save her own life, but she tried and failed. The whole time, as each person said their goodbye, she tried with no avail. “In my head, it was very clear what I was saying, but it wasn’t to them,” she explained.
“[Doctors] told [my family] that I would start to make noises when they turned off life support. I was very agitating. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t respond. I could just hear conversations around me and about me. I remember a doctor opening my eyes, messing with me, and telling my family I was not reacting…I [later] woke up but still couldn’t move anything so I kept trying to talk while moving my eyes to get their attention.”
Then, her husband was the last on who was going to say goodbye, and it was his turn. He whispered to his wife:
“You’re a fighter. I need you to fight.”
And she wanted so badly to stay alive, together with her family, that she was finally able to get a few words out. Lyndee whispered:
“I’m a fighter.”
Her family was speechless. Steve rushed out to get the doctor.
Against all odds and medical predictions, Lyndee was back, awake, and responding even after they had already taken her off life support.
Lyndee’s daughter Amanda recalled the moment tearfully:
“I looked at her, and she just says, ‘Hi,’ and I just fell to my knees.”
Although her recovery was nothing short of amazing, she still suffered a number of health problems and complications afterwards. She was eventually able to leave the hospital but she had to learn to walk and feed herself again. “They released me with home healthcare to continue learning everything,” she said. She ended up needing four follow-up surgeries and hospitalizations , and she suffered PTSD from the experience.
To this day they still have no idea why she first fell unconscious or how she made such a recovery.
Lyndee told CBS 5 Arizona that she wants everyone to learn from her experience. She says:
“Just because you’re not conscious doesn’t mean you can’t hear. ..So you should talk to your loved ones if they are in that situation. They hear you.”
And her family also wants everyone to learn something from their experience. Their message is:
“Everything can be taken away. You can wake up one day and everything is fine, and then your life is a mess. Keep your family close and don’t let them go.”
Lyndee’s son Steven said:
“I don’t take for granted that I get to come home and kiss my mom. Every day I come home from work, seeing her and talking to her.”
Always remember, the future is unknown.
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