The miracle boy
By Kirk Noonan
Noah Addesa had never been called “the miracle boy” prior to
April 27, 2007. Until that day, he was best defined as a sometimes-shy
11-year-old with a generous streak. He loved fishing, video games and going to church.
But in an instant, a lightning strike changed all that, and Noah Addesa was
dead in the mud next to the tulip tree in his family’s backyard.
In the moments after Noah’s death, his mother, Lisa, and
sister Emma raced into the rainstorm that was pounding Virginia Beach, Va.
While performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Noah, Lisa pleaded with God
for her son’s life.
“Not now, God!” she cried. “Don’t take him now. Please!”
It was at that moment, the family says, that a series of
The bolt that had killed Noah had knocked out the
electricity and phone service on the block, except for the neighbor’s house. It
was there that Noah’s eldest sister, Hannah, called 911.
The second miracle had already happened. A paramedic crew
who had the equipment and training to deal with a situation such as Noah’s had
pulled into a parking lot a few blocks from the Addesas’ home minutes before
Noah was struck.
“We’re not positive how the accident happened or even why
Noah was in the backyard during the storm,” says David, Noah’s father who
serves as pastor of Harvest Assembly in Chesapeake. “But since the day he was
struck down, we’ve seen miracle after miracle and have never stopped being
amazed at what God has done.”
The paramedics were able to revive Noah. As the ambulance
transported him to the hospital a television news helicopter followed it. One
reporter called Noah “the miracle boy,” and the name stuck.
At the hospital the family learned Noah was comatose.
Doctors told them he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life
because of the oxygen deprivation his brain suffered while he was dead. Despite
the poor prognosis, the family says the miracles kept happening and their faith
for a full recovery continued to grow.
Early on, doctors noted the lightning had burst Noah’s
eardrum and severely injured one eye. The Addesas feared Noah would be
partially deaf and blind. But when specialists checked the injured ear and eye
a couple of days after Noah’s admittance to the hospital, they were completely
“Noah has defied the odds since Day One,” David says.
“Rather than focus on the things God hasn’t done, we decided to focus on all
the things He has done, is doing and will do.”
In the days after the accident the family asked others to do
the same. To keep family and friends informed of Noah’s condition, David
chronicled Noah’s recovery in a blog.
On May 7 he wrote how doctors had tried to wean Noah from a
ventilator, but that he was not able to breathe on his own. A week later David
wrote: Noah was released from the intensive care unit and transferred to the
fifth-floor transitional area. What that means is that Noah has demonstrated
the ability to breathe without a ventilator. He is now breathing through his
tracheostomy tube by himself.
Four days later Lisa and her sister, Rachel, asked Noah to
blink once if he could hear them. He did. Then they asked him to blink twice if
he heard and understood them. He blinked twice.
Two weeks later David tried to coax Noah into saying “good
“Just start moving your lips, and something will come out,”
he told his son, as he demonstrated how to move one’s mouth.
Noah slowly began to mimic his father.
It became clear to me that Noah was really trying to get
some kind of sound out of his mouth, David wrote. Since then we have heard some
sighs, but no syllables yet.
In early June the family endured a devastating blow when
Noah’s neurologist told them the most recent MRI showed no signs of improvement
to Noah’s brain. Despite the setback, the Addesas refused to lose faith. While
visiting a family in their church who were raising a severely disabled daughter
in their home, David and Lisa and the girls became convinced Noah must one day
go home with them.
A few weeks later a team of specialists met with David and
Lisa to ask permission to pull Noah’s tracheostomy tube. Doing so, they said,
would prevent his progress from being impeded. Noah adapted perfectly to life
without the tube.
At the end of June, the medical chief of staff told the
Addesas, “Noah is there … it’s simply a struggle for him to synergize his
intentions with coordinated muscle movements.”
In layman’s terms, David wrote, Noah is no longer considered
Three days later, Noah’s doctor said Noah’s brain activity
was normal. David pressed the doctor, wanting to know what he meant by normal.
“Normal in the sense that his brain waves are that of a
normal 11-year-old boy,” the doctor explained.
A little more than four months after the day Noah had died
and been revived, he returned home.
Our opinion is that Noah clearly knows he is home, David
wrote on the blog. He knows his siblings, he knows his parents, and he knows
his house. He even recognizes his dog.
Fast forward to December 2008. The living room and dining
room of the Addesas’ home now serves as Noah’s bedroom and rehabilitation
center. A poster of New York Yankee superstar Derek Jeter hangs above Noah’s
bed. In one corner is a sword his best friend gave him after saving his
allowance for a year. On a table there is a stack of Noah’s favorite books.
In the center of the room Noah sits in his wheelchair. He is
alert, smiling and capable of making sounds with his mouth. It’s been a little
more than two years since the accident, and Noah has grown. He is slender, his
face punctuated by large brown eyes.
Lisa and 17-year-old Emma gently tend to his needs and
eagerly engage him with jokes, stories, quips and laughter. Noah takes it all
in and laughs at the appropriate moments.
“I always try to put myself in his shoes,” says Emma, who
has the same certification to care for Noah as Lisa does. “I like to try to
figure out what he goes through and make anything better that I can.”
Noah is not yet fully recovered, but this is a family that
refuses to mourn or waste time struggling to come to terms with his condition.
Instead, they celebrate little and big milestones with equal ecstasy. That Noah
can breathe on his own, has control of his trunk, can sit up, can eat snacks
and small meals orally, can make sounds and can smile and laugh are all indicators
that God is slowly mending him.
“He’s a million miles from where he used to be,” David says.
“We know things are connecting well in his brain.”
Since the day Noah was struck, people from around the world
have contacted the Addesas to say they have heard Noah’s story and are praying
for him. Some have even committed or recommitted their lives to Christ.
“God has brought so many people into our lives,” Lisa says.
“We’ve had opportunities to be a light to people who are struggling.”
The Addesas are quick to note how blessed they have been as
well. For months after the accident, meals, restaurant gift certificates, gas
cards and offers to help poured in. Perhaps the greatest gifts they received
were the intercessors who have held Noah and the family up in prayer since the
day Noah was injured.
“The intercession that has taken place for Noah has helped
him,” David insists. “There are no medical reasons for his recovery so far.”
That alone gives the Addesas the faith to believe that God
will continue to heal their miracle boy.
“I don’t expect Noah to be in his present state a year from
now,” David says. “I expect to see measureable, clinical progress. I don’t have
to drum up any faith to believe that will happen, either — I just look at
what God has already done.”
KIRK NOONAN is managing editor of Today’s Pentecostal
Evangel and blogs at Simple Plan (knoonan.agblogger.org).
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