The first sudden cardiac arrest took place in January 2014, in the midst of a workout in a Dewey gym near their home in Prescott Valley. Following a short break, Steve had moved to another fitness machine. He woke up 10 days later in intensive care.
On his first visit to the gym, a newly-hired Prescott police officer jumped into action, performing CPR until paramedics arrived to take over and transport him to the hospital.
Mary, Steve’s wife of 42 years, recalls the events of that frightening day.
“The miracle is, he was flat-out dead!” she says. “Officer Jenkins did CPR for 18 minutes himself. That saved Steve’s brain. … It was God’s fortuitous timing.”
Once in the hospital, he was placed in therapeutic hypothermia to further preserve brain function and transferred to a special heart unit. Specialists induced a coma and placed Steve on a respirator.
After Steve had been in a coma for eight days, doctors told Mary if he did not come out of the coma soon, he may not survive.
But Mary knew the One who could heal her husband.
Mary called one of Steve’s best friends, John Davis, a member of Willow Hills Baptist Church in Prescott. Davis called several men, including Rik Danielsen, Yuma Association director of evangelism/missions, who had asked Steve to lead Mile High Fellowship.
“Something told me to call those men,” she says.
Davis seized upon James 5, where James says, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up,” James 5:14-15a (NIV).
A dozen men met at the hospital the following day.
“There were 12 men in the ICU laying hands on him,” Mary says. “[Hospital personnel] were very good to let them in. The men anointed him with oil, then prayed for him.”
Steve’s doctors had warned her that morning, “He has a one-percent chance of living with any mental capacity.”
But again, Mary knew different.
“The Lord has told me that Steve will come out of this okay,” she told doctors.
On the following morning, Mary received a phone call — Steve was awake and talking!
But the celebration was short-lived. After three more days in ICU, Steve was transferred to another unit, where he coded again.
Doctors subsequently placed stents in two arteries in Steve’s heart. He received a pacemaker in February in the VA Hospital in Phoenix.
Nevertheless, the ordeal was not over.
Back in Prescott Valley in March 2014, Mary noticed Steve “just didn’t look right.” A visit to the VA emergency room revealed a lead from his pacemaker was disconnected. Forty minutes later, Steve suffered a third cardiac arrest. Despite the loose wire, the pacemaker did its job, and his life was spared once more.
Mary says rather than weaken her trust in God, the continued struggle only strengthened it.
“The second and third times only reinforced my faith,” she says.
And the struggle continued when, two weeks after the third cardiac arrest, a blood vessel burst in Steve’s stomach. This time, Mary rushed him to the ER in the hospital with the special heart unit.
While sitting with her husband at the hospital, Mary saw a change on the heart monitor from previous hospitalizations.
“I noticed the pattern was erratic,” she says.
A technician also saw the change in rhythm, leading doctors to discover that the top and bottom of Steve’s heart were not beating properly. He was ultimately diagnosed with Wenckebach Syndrome, a type of heart blockage accompanied by abnormalities in electrical impulses that direct the heart to beat.
They didn’t have to go far for the answer to the problem. A technician reprogrammed the pacemaker already. He hasn’t experienced any heart problems since then.
Steve knows many miracles had to take place for him to be able to preach following three episodes of heart failure.
“Some people say they see a bright light,” he says. “I had a very deep impression from the Spirit of God that He saved my life. As far as man was concerned, it was hopeless. God uses situations like this so He can demonstrate His power and sovereignty over us.”
Mary’s Answer to Prayer
Mary White’s husband, Steve, was in an induced coma following heart failure. Even though she felt God telling her that all would be well, seeds of doubt were intruding into her thoughts.
The day before, Mary had called on Steve’s best friend to ask a few believers to gather at the hospital to pray for her husband. But she awoke the next morning filled with doubt and fear. Still, Mary told herself, no, God has given me this faith that Steve is going to wake up and be fine.
Recalling something her mother used to do, Mary opened her Bible to a random page for an answer.
As she asked God, “Did you give me this or did I make this up?” her eyes fell on a passage in Luke about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, who recognizes Mary is carrying God’s Son.
Elizabeth tells Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45 (NIV).
The verse destroyed all doubt about the outcome — Mary knew God was in control.