14-year-old Chelsea Banton was no stranger to physical sickness. She’d been sick since birth, when, as a tiny premature baby, she was given only 36 hours to live. From there, she battled illness after illness.
As an infant, she shocked her doctors by proving them wrong. After four months in the NICU, she was able to go home. But it wasn’t long before her health issues flared up again with a vengeance. By the time she was 2, she had been in and out of the hospital many times for several serious conditions, including pneumonia, hydrocephalus, viruses, and infections.
She had adjustments made to her skull and was treated for extreme fluid retention.
Her parents weren’t sure exactly what was going on, but it was clear that Chelsea was seriously ill.
But something changed when she turned 14. Suddenly, Chelsea’s mother sensed that something was seriously wrong. She brought her daughter to the hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, where doctors diagnosed her with a staph infection on top of double pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and kidney failure.
Her whole body was failing.
Doctors didn’t understand why, but they knew their only option was to put Chelsea into a medically induced coma and place her on life support.
Chelsea and her family endured almost two months in the hospital, where the teenage girl was on life support the entire time. It was an endless and exhausting process. Just when they thought she was doing a little better and tried to adjust, Chelsea’s health would collapse again. And the Banton family would start over from the beginning, trying to do everything to save her.
Any attempt to remove her from life support made her rapidly deteriorate.
At last, it seemed like they were nearing the end. Her mother, Colleen, felt like there was no longer any point in trying to prolong Chelsea’s life. It seemed like there was no hope for trying to save her.
One of Chelsea’s nurses, Bevin Hemby, had been helping to treat her since she was an infant. She was there for what the family and the pediatric ward staff thought was Chelsea’s final moments.
“In Chelsea’s case, her family just decided she was a DNR,” Hemby said. “We were not supposed to resuscitate. They decided to take the mask off and see, could she breathe on her own? And we all knew — her staff — that there was a big chance she would not be able to.”
As doctors prepared to remove Chelsea from life support, her family arrived to make their farewells.
The teen was left to breathe on her own. And she did for the next hour. Suddenly, something unbelievable happened.
A bright figure appeared on the hospital security camera. Multiple nurses saw it go and wait outside the door of Chelsea’s hospital room. They went back to the hall to check who was there, but they saw no one.
“We looked up and we saw this bright image that appeared to be an angel,” Hemby said. “So, of course, we pulled Chelsea’s mom back into the unit and told her, ‘You’ve gotta see this.’ We showed her on the cameras, we opened the door, and there’s the image again. And it was there during this whole time when we were pulling the mask off.”
Colleen also saw the image and desperately tried to capture the image on her phone, but the picture wouldn’t appear on her screen.
The family was convinced that the figure was an angel who had come to protect their daughter as she fought for her life. The figure convinced them that removing her from life support was the wrong decision. They decided to put Chelsea back on the life support machine … but then something else happened.
To everyone’s shock, Chelsea suddenly appeared to be extremely calm. She wasn’t struggling so hard to breathe. Over the next several days, she began to find it easier and easier to breathe on her own, where before she would rapidly deteriorate whenever the mask was removed.
Hemby says she’s never seen a child who was as sick as Chelsea recover at that pace.
She’s convinced that the mysterious figure they saw on the security monitor was an angel who had come to protect her.
After another two months, Chelsea was released from the hospital. Although she had a long path ahead of her, her family knew that she had someone watching over her.
Unfortunately, Chelsea passed away in November 2015 at the age of 21. Although she didn’t have a long life on earth, she had another seven years to enjoy with her family after her miraculous experience in the hospital.
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