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Man who died twice lives to tell about it

Staff writer

Many times, a life-or-death crisis causes people to reach out to God and establish a personal relationship with Him.

That was the case with Terry Holt. The 70-year-old retired Marion Reservoir manager had a history of health problems but nothing like he experienced June 15, 2018, and in the days that followed.

He awoke early in intense pain. After a trip to St. Luke Hospital’s emergency room, where blood work indicated he had non-alcohol related pancreatitis, he was transported to Newton Medical Center.

That was just the beginning of a months-long ordeal. On June 20 of that year, two things happened: a birth and a death.

Terry’s wife, Ann, received news at home that their first grandchild had been born. She was excited and did a happy dance.

But when she called the hospital, she found out Terry was getting worse. She arrived at his bedside and told him about the new grandbaby but did not know whether he heard her.

Then things got crazy. He became septic and stopped breathing.

Medical personnel rushed to his bedside, and others began preparing Ann for the inevitability of Terry’s death. But God had other plans. Terry was resuscitated after four minutes of intense chest compressions.

“In the time span of eight hours, I became a grandmother, and ever so briefly, a widow,” Ann said. “In my spirit, I prayed, ‘Oh, God, help me.’”

Doctors did an immediate bedside surgery without anesthetics to relieve abdominal pressure and sent Terry to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.

The next day, he died a second time but was revived after two minutes.

In the days and weeks following, he had numerous surgeries and blood transfusions. The couple’s four children came — Andy from New Zealand, Lewis from North Carolina, and Laura and William from Ohio — to support Ann and be near their father.

Ann continued to talk to Terry, not knowing whether he could hear her.

Terry was put on life support for a month and gradually improved.

About Aug. 20, he regained full consciousness and was aware the medical staff was preparing for another surgery. He prayed to prevent it from happening. His prayer was answered. An MRI showed surgery was not necessary. He regards it as one of many miracles he experienced.

That’s when he learned he was a grandfather. He doesn’t remember anything that happened to him before then.

Altogether, he was hospitalized and in rehabilitation for 103 days. He returned home Sept. 25, 2018.

The couple was overwhelmed by prayers offered for Terry and other things people did for them. He still lives with a lot of pain and suffers from neuropathy, making it difficult to walk.

Someone gave him a motorized wheelchair. Another friend built a ramp to the couple’s front door so he could get outside. He sometimes gets around with help of a walking stick.

He also has a dog, Willow, a beautiful Labrador that the couple got as a pup and Terry trained to be a certified service dog.

“She doesn’t like to be out of my sight,” Terry said.

“She keeps him stable when he’s on his feet,” Ann said.

Many more details of Terry’s story could be written, but for him, the most significant thing about his ordeal is not that he died twice but that it has drawn him into a close, personal relationship with God.

“I wasn’t ready,” he said. “He brought me back closer to Him. In that trial, my heart and soul were refined.”

Last modified Feb. 22, 2024

 

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