A 37-year-old North Carolina pastor declared brain dead a month after a listeria infection miraculously woke from a coma and has returned home after 6 months. How did he go from being scheduled for organ harvesting to going home?
Pastor with listeria infection snowballs into brain injury and “brain dead” declaration
Ryan Marlow, and 37-year-old pastor of Grace Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, suddenly fell ill in August with a listeria infection.
The infection rapidly snowballed into a traumatic brain stem injury, according to a Facebook post from Ryan’s wife, Megan.
However, only two weeks later, Megan was told by doctors that her husband was “clinically deceased,” People reported.
“The doctor came out [of husband’s hospital room] with about 20 other people as my witness and said your husband has clinically passed,” Megan said, delivering the grim diagnosis in a Facebook live video. “He is clinically deceased. He has passed away. He has suffered neurological death.”
Doctors then scheduled the harvesting of Ryan’s organs for three days later after informing Megan her husband was brain-dead, the Christian Post reported.
“They put the time of his death on his chart – that was it,” Megan wrote on Facebook on August 28. “I was called into a room and told that my husband was an organ donor and that we were gonna begin the process of finding matches for his organs. So that process began, he was on life support and they told me he would remain on life support until they found all of the donors.”
Miracle recovery as pastor wakes up
Then everything changed. On August 29, Meghan said on Facebook that her husband’s doctor called, saying that because of Ryan’s “rare circumstance,” they had “called in an expert panel and discovered that they made a mistake … That my husband, in fact, did not pass away.”
Megan then insisted doctors test her husband’s brain function instead of following through with organ donation.
“Literally, our team was standing there waiting to take him,” Megan said. “I tell the nurse, stop everything right now.”
“Long story short, he’s not brain dead, my friends,” Megan said in a video message posted on August 31. “God’s kept him here. He’s supposed to be dead, he’s supposed to be at the funeral home right now according to these doctors.”
A week later, Ryan’s condition had dramatically improved and continued to do so. Ryan was able to squeeze his wife’s hand and respond to questions, the New York Post reported on October 15.
Pastor returns home six months later
In early March, Ryan Marlow returned home, six months after being admitted to the hospital with a listeria infection, as well as being wrongfully declared brain dead and nearly having his organs harvested, the Christian Post reported.
Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate his return. Photos of the event showed Ryan in a wheelchair.
“Ryan was just shocked at all the love that was shown,” Megan Marlow wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to her husband called Ryan’s Recovery. “For the last six months, I’ve been able to see all the messages and the comments and the support and the prayers. But he has seen just glimpses here and there which is what made yesterday that much more amazing.”
“For three hours Ryan waved, smiled and interacted with hundreds of people,” Megan added. “I’m so proud of him. I know he was exhausted.”
Ryan dubbed “hero” for National Brain Injury Awareness Month
“March is National Brain Injury Awareness month,” Meghan posted on Ryan’s Recovery page. “I post this today in honor of my husband. He was living a beautiful and healthy life and then something as innocent as eating supper turned his world upside down with an Acquired Brain Injury from listeria.”
“He is a fighter,” Megan added. “He is the strongest man I know. He is my hero.”