See/view doctors report that stated Evangelina was in critical condition.
March 17, 2013 reported here. Last November, Evangelina Garza was pronounced dead. It was a Sunday morning when Garza and her husband were preparing to go out to breakfast. The last thing the 72-year-old Mission resident recalled was looking at a book and an apple on her bedside table before she lost consciousness. She explained that her husband came in looking for her. He found her unresponsive. “When he touched me, I was cold,” Garza explained. “He would lift my arms, or pick me up, and I would fall back to the bed. So he called 9-1-1 and the ambulance came, and they told him how to do CPR while they were coming. “And when he was doing that, I took a deep breath, and died.” When Garza arrived at the hospital, she was pronounced dead, medical records show. Doctors worked to revive her to no avail. Somehow, 30 minutes after her arrival, Garza came back to life.
‘She can't be dead’
Garza’s daughter, Belinda Leal, received word that her mother had collapsed. She raced to pick up her father and meet the ambulance at McAllen Medical Center. Leal was taken to the trauma waiting room. “So (the doctor and nurse) were waiting for us and they said, ‘Are you here for Evangelina Garza?’ … Then he said, ‘Well, I’m sorry to tell you that I have very bad news: Your mother has passed away.’” Leal paused to dry her eyes and gather herself. “So then they took us in and I said, ‘No, she can’t be dead.’ The doctor said, ‘I’m sorry ma’am, but your mother passed away. When she got here she was already gone.’” Leal persisted, insisting that her mother couldn’t be dead. She demanded to see her.
“So they took me to her, me and my dad, and she was there, dead, unresponsive, flat-lining and everything,” Leal said. “Just dead. I still didn’t believe it. … I said, ‘She didn’t get to do anything. She didn’t get to say goodbye, nothing,’ and so he said, ‘I’m going to prove it to you.’ So he ripped a paper towel out of the holder, and he folded it up into a cone and he opened her eyelids and started poking her with it, and she wouldn’t move. And he lifted her hand, her legs, and they just collapsed, and I had just lost it by then.”
Leal said she left the room in anguish. Her daughters stayed with Garza, pleading with her to “come back.” Leal swooned, she explained, and then held onto a wall in the hallway, praying. Garza’s granddaughters decided to play Garza her favorite song, Divo’s version of “Hallelujah,” in hopes that it might bring her back. Outside the room, Leal continued to entreat God. “I said we all needed her here. So I was doing that when my daughter comes over and says ‘Mom, mom guess what? Grandma’s moving her legs!’ I said, ‘No she’s not. Stop it! Why are you lying to me?’ and they said, ‘No, no, she is! She’s moving her legs.’ And I went in there and, sure enough, she was kicking her legs a little bit.”
Leal ran from the room looking for Garza’s doctor, and told him what she and her daughters had witnessed. He explained that dead bodies sometimes have involuntary movements. “So then I walked in and said, ‘Look at her heart monitor. It’s registering something,’” Leal said. “It was very low, but it was something. Then he comes over and says, ‘Hey, you’re right.’” Garza continued to move her legs, and began to show more signs of life. Her breathing was labored, so doctors inserted a respirator tube in her throat to help her breathe, and she was moved to the Intensive Care Unit, where she lay in an induced coma for six days. Leal said Garza was gone for 30 minutes before her heart beat again. Garza said she was dead — not gone.
“So I remember when I was dead, I was in heaven,” she said. “I went to heaven. I was there. I saw my dad, but he was not like when he died — he was old when he passed, you know. He was young, and I saw him and I asked, ‘Dad, how can I be seeing you when you’ve been dead 18 years?’ … He just looked at me. Then I turned my head and I saw my mother, and I asked her the same thing, ‘How can I be seeing you, Mom, you’ve been dead for 10 years? How?’ They didn’t talk. They just looked at me and I could feel so much love, like they wanted to hold me.”
Then, Garza said, she looked down and saw her body lying in the bed with a tube in her throat. “I was thinking, ‘How can I stand that thing?’” Suddenly, Garza said, she felt a strange sensation and heard the strains of “Hallelujah.” “I could hear Il Divo’s “Hallelujah” real far, far away,” she recalled. “When I heard the last part of the song, I felt something inside my body and they say I opened my eyes. I think my soul came back.” Garza went on to describe the sensations she felt while she was outside her body.
“But I was up there, you know, and then when I saw (my parents), I can’t explain it, but I heard music and I felt a like a wind or a whirl around my head and I saw a bunch of flowers and lots of stuff, and I mean, I didn’t know what was going on. Then I felt a strange pull —” “It was us! Saying ‘Come back,’” Leal concluded. Garza went on to say that she felt a great tug and that was when she “woke up.”
‘I just don't have an explanation’
Perhaps the most medically baffling part of Garza’s experience is the fact that she hasn’t dealt with any brain damage, or trouble with walking, talking, eating or any other daily activities since she revived. Garza’s doctors would not comment on Garza’s experiences — even with her permission — but Dr. Daniel Labovitz, a neurologist at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, helped shed some light on what happened.
“There are case reports of patients surviving with no detectable neurological injury after prolonged cardiac arrest, but it is exceedingly rare, and in all of the descriptions that I encountered the patients had CPR during most of the arrest,” Labovitz said. “People have survived cardiac arrest for that duration of time with no injury when they are hypothermic, say after being pulled from an icy lake, but to survive uninjured at Texas temperatures is extraordinary. “Patients who seem moribund (at the point of death) can dramatically improve and sometimes do very well even though the outcome in most patients is awful.”
As for Garza’s extraordinary experience, Labovitz declared he had no earthly idea how they came to be. “I don’t have a medical or neurological explanation for the personal, life-affirming journeys some patients take during near-death experiences,” he said. “That isn’t to say that I don’t think the experiences are real. I think they are. I just don’t have an explanation.”
A Life Forever Altered
Today, Garza says she is grateful to be alive. For the next few months, though, she must not do anything by herself — such as driving or showering behind a locked door. Though she has to give up some of her independence for a time, she said that she would not give up her experience on the “other side.” “Please stop and realize that there is a God and he sees and hears us, and blesses us, and that you will see your passed loved ones when you go,” she said. Garza said the peace of mind that she took from the experience, despite the traumatic events preceding it, was worth it. “But I also feel great that God was there for me in my life, and I praise him and love him, because I can be at ease, knowing that it will happen again,” she said. She lifted her head and cracked a smile. “But I tell my kids, ‘If I go again, let me go!’ I do not want that thing in my throat again and all that.”