Guest Column

Hours after a Florida hospital declared him dead, his family learned he was alive and fought to save him


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of Live Action or Live Action News.

A family in Florida is fighting for the life of Jacob Chapman – a husband, a father, and a worship leader at Destiny Worship Center in Panama City Beach, Florida.

On Tuesday night, Jacob was working late at his shop where he makes custom cabinets. His wife, Kristen, knew he was working late to get a job finished but she had a bad feeling when he did not answer his phone. At 1:45 AM Wednesday morning she found her husband at the shop unresponsive with a weak pulse. She immediately began chest compressions until emergency medical services arrived. The EMS used an automatic compression device and were able to get Jacob’s heart beating on its own on the way to the hospital. Jacob was taken to Bay at the Beach Emergency Room and then eventually transferred to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital Bay in Panama City at about 4:30 AM. At about 11:30 AM Wednesday morning Kristen received the call that no wife who loves her husband wants to hear.

The doctor declared her husband to be deceased.

Jacob’s wife and five kids were absolutely devastated.

Then, seven hours later, Kristen received a call from a nurse at the hospital to inform her that the hospital was running more tests on her husband. He had called her because the funeral home had attempted to make arrangements for the pickup of Jacob’s body. Of course, the funeral home did not want to pick up the body of a man whose heart was still beating.

Jacob Chapman was not deceased.

The hospital admitted that the doctor who had called Kristen seven hours before had “misspoken;” her husband was not dead, but alive.

Kristen was granted a 15 minute visit with her husband the next day. When she entered his hospital room, she noticed that the hospital had disconnected Jacob from all IVs, and was not giving her husband any fluids or medications. Her husband was still on a ventilator, but his kidneys were starting to fail because he was dehydrated.

READ: The ’10-Day-Rule’ in Texas is an unethical and institutional power play

Jacob’s doctor told Kristen that her husband could not be treated anymore because he had been diagnosed as brain dead, but Kristen saw no visible signs of death. “When I touched Jake’s skin it was normal. His skin was smooth and it was the same color it has always been. His body had no odor because his body was not decaying. His heart was beating on its own,” Kristen said.

Kristen pleaded with the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital and the hospital agreed to reconnect everything and treat Jacob like they would any ICU patient. Upon doing this, Jacob’s creatinine went down and he began having urine output once again.

Kristen, who has worked in the medical field for years, was not comfortable with her husband’s treatment at the hospital and with the treatment her husband received as a potential organ donor. “When Jake decided to be an organ donor he never realized how much pressure the organ procurement team would put on me and the hospital,” Kristen said. “As Jake’s wife, we have talked about situations similar to this. He thought I’d have final say if something happened. And I know he would never want to just give up. He loves his family second only to God, and I know he would fight for me as well if the situation were reversed.”

Jake’s father, Mike Chapman, shared the same concerns. “Jake intended for his organs to be donated once he had a natural death. A death where God called him home, not when man decided to put an end to his life. This is mind blowing. It feels like the vultures have been swarming from day one—Jake’s well-being not their priority, his organs being their priority.”

A protest was held outside of Sacred Heart-Bay Hospital on Friday night where friends and family expressed their frustration over Jacob’s treatment and their desire to see Jacob transferred to a facility that would do everything in its power to fight for his life.

As reported by WMBB Jeremiah Williams, a friend of the Chapman family said, “We’re just trying to get him transferred to a place that’s going to actually help him.”

Florida law states, “A health care provider or facility that refuses to comply with a patient’s advance directive, or the treatment decision of his or her surrogate or proxy, shall make reasonable efforts to transfer the patient to another health care provider or facility that will comply with the directive or treatment decision.”

On Sunday, Jacob Chapman was transferred by private ambulance to a VA Hospital four hours away in Gainesville, Florida. The Chapman family is grateful for the efforts of Congressman Neal Dunn and the prayers of friends, family, and complete strangers all over the world who have been praying for Jacob.

The battle is far from over and Kristen Chapman and her family intend to continue to fight for Jacob’s right to life. The Chapman family is receiving help from a patient advocate at Right to Life of East Texas and has received both counsel and support from Action for Life and Texas Right To Life.

Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texans, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

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