For most young people, the thought of arranging medical documents and wills that would dictate what happens to them when they get sick isn’t first and foremost on their mind. Raising their kids, putting food on the table, and enjoying time with their family often come first.
But when the worst happened to Texas man and father of three Jonathan Michel, a debate over next of kin nearly led to his death.
It all started innocently enough. On June 30, 2018, Jonathan was hanging out with his friends; one of them decided to play a practical joke on him. Just as he was about to sit down, they pulled one of the legs of his chair out from underneath. Jonathan fell to the floor and hit his head.
But this was no simple bump on the head. Jonathan sustained major brain trauma, and his whole right side was paralyzed. At the hospital, he was placed on a ventilator and desperately depended on having the fluid from his brain drained in order to keep him alive.
Jonathan’s dad, Wren Michel, was at the hospital, staying with his son every step of the way. His mom, Karen Michel, happened to be in Africa on a mission trip. She decided to come back to Texas immediately after hearing some awful news.
"I got a text from my sister that his estranged wife was at the hospital and trying to terminate, or to pull the plug,”…
Though Jonathan and Jacqueline Michel (née Dalton) hadn’t been living together for over three years, they had never formally been divorced. As such, Jacqueline claimed to have the say over what happened to the man who was legally her husband. She told LifeSite that Jonathan had said, “If I’m ever in such a situation, I want to let nature take its course.”
But his parents, Wren and Karen, believed their son had a fighting chance and was showing signs of responsiveness. Pastor Mark Lee Dickson of East Texas Right to Life posted on Facebook that “[Jonathan] held his mom’s phone and tried to turn it on. He also unfastened his niece’s watch and refastened it on her arm. He closes his eyes when his parents pray with him. These are obvious signs of life.”
However, his estranged wife refused to relent, ordering the hospital not to let Jonathan’s parents and pastor even have visitation rights. She also continued to maintain her position that Jonathan should be left to die without life support.
I have had the opportunity to meet a couple of amazing families this week that both have a very special place in my…
When push came to shove, Jonathan’s parents just weren’t going to let him go without a fight. They stood fast in their belief that he at least deserved a bit more time before termination. When doctors were about to come unplug Jonathan, his dad literally stood in the way of the doors, per FaithWire.
As dad Wren told them, “if you’re going to unplug him, you’ll have to go through me.” Meanwhile, his parents focused on getting the Ethics Board of the UT hospital system to review the case. Thankfully, the board agreed to let Jonathan stay on life support in the hope of improvement.
“They finally called me in to tell me that they were seeing progress,” Wren Michel told LifeSite, “and as long as they were seeing progress, they were going to continue medical care.”
I want to express our thankfulness for each and every prayer you've spoken on behalf of Jonathan Michel, Wren Michel and…
Incredibly, Jonathan not only survived but he actually got better bit by bit. By Aug. 9, 2018, Karen posted on Facebook to let the thousands of people who had heard about the case know that Jonathan was definitely improving and would soon be released from the ICU.
“Five weeks ago we had little to no hope for our son’s life, today doctors and medical staff are astonished with his improvement,” she wrote. “With God all things are possible!! I will not count out a miracle.”
While Jonathan needed loads of help with physical and speech therapy, not to mention continued medical attention, he was eventually able to leave the hospital and go back home to his loving family. Even though his right side remains paralyzed, his family and his kids are happy to have him back with them.
Jonathan’s is an incredible story of survival, and his parents’ belief that all lives deserve a chance, no matter how slim it appears to be, probably saved him.