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To heaven and back - SPECIAL REPORT - KOAM TV 7

To heaven and back - SPECIAL REPORT

Posted: Updated: May 5, 2011 05:46 PM CDT
JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

At the age of three, Truman Oaks was staring death in the face after being run over by a 3,800 pound SUV.

Pinned underneath the rear tire Truman was unconscious and not breathing.

"I fully expected to lose my son," says Debi Oaks, Truman's mother.  "When I walked in the door they had a chaplain there to greet me.  When you see that your heart just sinks."

Truman's condition was very serious.  He suffered a collapsed lung, fractured collar bone, road rash and a lacerated liver.

Doctors were afraid and looking at an intensive surgery.

Knowing they would be staying in the hospital Debi and her husband came back to their house and packed clothing and anything they would need.

"You walk into your house and if you have a child there's just their stuff everywhere," Debi says.  "I just remember telling my husband that I can't come back here without him."

When things turned for the better, Truman was able to come home and one day he was drawing pictures.  He told his mother he wanted to become a doctor so he could scoop up kids that get run over.

"I asked 'did someone do that to you?'  He said 'Yeah.  Jesus.'"

Even though the accident was almost two years ago Truman still recalls seeing Jesus.

"He, like, just sat by me and looked at me," Truman says.  "He looked like he had brown hair.  He was, like, cool lookin'.  His hair came down like this, went up to here like that.  He was wearing a white robe and a blue thing hanging down like here and around him."


Doctors say seeing Jesus is a phenomenon people experience while under great stress or during near death experiences.

"With those who have near death experience where they have more religious connotation to it, it can be an overwhelming spiritual transformation," says Dr. Ahmed Robbie, a neurologist at Freeman Neuro Spine Center.

Dr. Robbie says brain activity during simulated events have been studied a lot and the activity of the brain is the same as REM sleep, or the deepest sleep.

"Most of the dreams are vivid, or really vague dreams, so it depends but an out of patient experience is so vivid that it can look like real events happening," says Dr. Robbie.

Despite how doctors perceive events leading people to view out of body experiences or near death experiences, Truman says it truly is a miracle.

"Yeah, because I, like, came back to life - I survived getting ran over," says Truman.  "I pray to thank him that he made me live from that accident."

"When I got to bring him home," says Debi, "I just appreciate him so much more every day, and those times before when maybe I'd be frustrated with him or things like that, I can't say now I don't get frustrated with him, it puts it all in perspective definitely."


Lora Hicks was getting ready for bed on Mother's Day 2009 when she started having pain in her chest.  Her husband took her to the hospital where she had an emergency heart surgery.

"Went to the surgery room and later on a few minutes see myself floating," Lora says.  "I was floating above my body."

Dr. Ray Vetsch is a cardiac surgeon at Freeman Hospital and says out of body experiences can happen to people based on several triggering phenomenon.  He has had a few patients experience these sort of events.

"Obviously, one would be a big operation and the stresses that go with that, especially operations that happen more as a surprise," says Dr. Vetsch.

Lora says that while Dr. Vetsch was doing the operation she saw a very bright light.

"I saw the white light - Jesus was standing in the white light and he took me by the hand and we ascended then," Lora says.

Aaron Brown, a pastor at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, has met people before who say they have seen Jesus.

"They see a radiance of light and just understand, somehow, someway, that this is God or this is Jesus," Pastor Brown says.

"Whenever we got up there it was so awesome and words can't describe the beauty of how it was," Lora says.  "And all the flowers and greenery and it was just - the animals were around and you walk right by the lions and they don't even hurt you.  So I got a scenic tour of heaven."

Lora says while she was in heaven, talking and walking with Jesus, she was awed by his presence.

"I mean, you think this powerful man you're standing here next to, but he made me feel like one of his children and it was just so much of a blessing," says Lora.

Pastor Brown says there really isn't a discrepancy between religion and science.

"Science and religion are trying to describe something that is really indescribable," he says.  "It's a perception of the human spirit so to speak.  So I take it very serious because it says a lot about the person and their emotional environment."

Dr. Vetsch says this phenomenon isn't based on social class, education, or race.

"It is a positive experience and it almost defines hope," says Dr. Vetsch.  "I think that is the common denominator that I have seen.  But, you know, it's a handful of people that had those kind of experiences.  It's not an everyday thing."

"I didn't want to come back," Lora says.  "Jesus told me he had more work for me to do - that my work wasn't done.  So here I am."

From her journey with Jesus, Lora hopes to spread the message of her experience and strengthen the faith of many people.

Doctors say Lora did not die during surgery, but the experience was still present.

While Lora shares her story, she says her family has accepted the fact she has gone to heaven and back.

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