Nearly Brain-Dead Woman Survives After Being Removed from Life Support

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Michele De Leeuw, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, has almost fully recovered after open heart surgery, speech and physical therapy.

(NBC News) – Moments after a Michigan man made the heart-wrenching decision to take his wife off life support, she started breathing on her own. Michele De Leeuw, 57, was rendered nearly brain dead by a heart attack she suffered in August while at home with her husband. Days later, one of her doctors told her husband, Karl De Leeuw that, “the woman that you know as your wife is not there anymore,” he said.

Less than four months later, she’s made an almost full recovery.

Michele De Leeuw was without oxygen for 15 minutes before Sterling Heights paramedics were able to resuscitate her, Karl De Leeuw said. She was then rushed to St. John Macomb Hospital, at which point Karl alerted his two adult children.

“When my father called me after she was rushed to the hospital, was that he felt that she was dead. It was the most earth-shattering phone call of my young life,” said Michele’s daughter, Myles De Leeuw, 24. “It was horrible to see my mother on more IVs and tubes than you can ever imagine.”

“I’ve never seen that many IVs,” Karl Leeuw, 58, echoed. Six days after Michele’s heart attack, her distraught family was told she had only 5 percent brain function and 25 percent heart function. CONTINUE