This Man’s Choice Altered His Wife’s Destiny

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Sep 16, 2023

Newlyweds often dream of living happily ever after forever, but this wasn’t the case for Ryan and Jill Finley. They had gotten married in Oklahoma and hoped to enjoy their lives together. 

Unfortunately, everything changed one morning, and Ryan soon found himself in a dilemma that would determine his bride’s future. Let’s explore the story. 

This Was No Ordinary Weekend

After spending some time together relaxing, Ryan often leaves Jill to catch more sleep in the mornings while he reads the newspapers. But this Sunday morning was different.


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He noticed something strange when he went to wake his wife, and he couldn’t seem to shake it off.


What’s This Feeling?

That Sunday morning in 2007 was a turning point in Ryan and Jill’s lives. They had been married for four years and were already familiar with each other’s habits. Since Jill always caught extra sleep in the morning, he didn’t bother to wake her on this fateful day. 


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When Ryan felt differently that morning, he knew something was up, but nothing could have prepared him for what he had walked into.

Things Aren’t Quite Right

Ryan had walked into his wife’s room that morning of May 26, 2007. He wasn’t sure why; he just found himself walking toward her.  Although he had felt unusual, what happened after wasn’t what he expected. 


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He started by tapping his wife gently to arouse her from her sleep. When she didn’t respond, Ryan yelled and shook her anxiously. It was then he realized she wasn’t breathing. 

Something Quick Had To Be Done!

Afraid, Ryan tried to snap out of his shock as he stared at his wife’s lifeless body. He hurriedly jumped to his phone and punched in the emergency number. 


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While he waited for help, Ryan gently placed his wife on the floor and performed CPR with all the courage and strength he could muster. He implemented everything he could remember from a CPR course and tried to save Jill. 

What’s Taking So Long?

It took about 15 minutes for the medics to arrive, but this time seemed like forever to Ryan. When they arrived and took over, he was relieved and silently prayed for his wife’s recovery.

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As they used a defibrillator, Ryan couldn’t help but watch Jill go up and down on the cold floor after every thump. 


Off to the Hospital They Went

Reality dawned on the paramedics – Jill needed intensive medical care. So, they hurriedly lifted her to the ambulance and drove her to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Realizing that he couldn’t follow Jill in the vehicle, Ryan followed them in his car. 


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The medics sprung into action once they got to the hospital, using a respirator to revive her lungs. Sadly, Jill remained unresponsive to Ryan and the doctors’ despair.  


A Glimpse of Hope

At the hospital, Jill was stabilized in 25 minutes by the paramedics. Afterward, they rallied to develop a more stable solution. While Ryan watched the events unfold, he pondered the cause of his wife’s present condition. 

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Suddenly, Jill regained her breathing, and Ryan sighed in relief and hope. At that time, nobody knew life had another twist in store for them. 


Going All Out

The medical team began to treat Jill’s situation more seriously. The cause of her condition was known: she had gone into cardiac arrest in her sleep, spending about five minutes without oxygen. 


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To control the situation, the doctor induced clinical hypothermia to mitigate the chances of brain damage. Next, Jill’s body was treated with cool water wrapped in large cooling pads for 24 hours to lower her body temperature. 


She Fell Into a Coma

The doctors warmed up Jill’s body after chilling for 24 hours and hoped she would wake during this process as other people do. Sadly, Jill remained numb, and the doctors realized little brain activity was happening. 

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It became clear that Jill was in a coma, aggravating the situation. But this didn’t deter Ryan. Instead, he stood by her and hoped she would be okay. 


Sticking By Her Side

Ryan’s hope started to wane, but he didn’t give up on Jill. He stuck by her even though all he could do was hold her hands. Days passed, yet Jill showed no improvement. 


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Ryan continued to pray. He also read Bible verses and hoped to God Jill got through the ordeal alive. 


Heart-wrenching News

Although Jill’s condition hadn’t improved, Ryan wasn’t ready for the following devastating news. When asked how he felt when the news was delivered, Ryan often described the feeling as grim. 

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Ryan was told his wife had only a one percent chance of survival. And as shocking and sad as it was, Ryan clung to hope. He kept a diary and documented the events in it. 


Realization Swept In

As days passed with no improvements in Jill’s health, Ryan began to admit to fate. Every morning was a reminder that his wife was dying with little to no chance of survival. 


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Slowly, Ryan came to terms with what seemed like the truth – if his wife lived, she would be unable to recover fully and may never be back to her cheerful self for the rest of her life. 


Two Excruciating Weeks Passed

The doctors tried all they could, but there was no improvement. Gradually, everyone resigned to fate, including friends and family.

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 It was tough enough for Ryan to watch his wife’s unconscious state for two weeks, but life had more challenging plans for him. Ryan was soon to make the most difficult decision of his lifetime. 


The Worst Day of His Life

As the days progressed, the doctors informed him that he had to decide the next step: did he want to take her off life support? In total despair, Ryan wrote this in his diary “Today could be the worst day of my life. I have to decide whether or not Jill lives.” 


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Ryan knew Jill wouldn’t want to live the rest of her life on life support. Yet, he was confused and pondered over the right decision to make. 


What Would Jill Really Want?

While Ryan was unsure what to do, Ryan revisited his memories with Jill. He knew they hadn’t agreed on what to do in situations like this because they had never envisaged this future. 

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Fortunately, he remembered Jill had once said she would never want to live her life tied to the bed when his aunt was hospitalized on life support.


Time To Say Goodbye

Ryan had already found his answer. Jill wouldn’t have wanted to live her life tied to the hospital, so he had to let her go. He decided to take her off life support and prepared to bid her goodbye. 


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Jill’s family agreed with him and requested a court order to start the process. For Ryan, this was the hardest decision of his life. 


An Unexpected Call From the Nurse

Jill was taken off life support on June 9th, 2007. Ryan was expectant. Would something good happen? Ryan noticed at some points, her body would shift a bit, and she would mumble, which was overwhelming for him. 

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He couldn’t bear to watch her take her last breath, so he left the room. But he received a call from the nurse shortly after.


Last Rally or Not?

On getting to Jill’s room five hours after the life support was turned off, Ryan thought the nurse’s call was for the last rally. 


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He stood by her and tried to understand her as she mumbled and moved around the room. After a while, he realized it wasn’t her last rally. Perhaps, it was good news? 


“Get Me Out of Here!”

Jill went from mumbling to speaking clearly. First, Ryan heard her say, “get me out of here!” Afterward, she said, “Take me to Red’s and the Melting Pot,” her two favorite spots. 

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Although the doctor had told him not to hope for too much, he watched Jill closely to be sure she meant what she said. It was then he realized something unusual was happening. 


What Happens Now?

Confused at the turn of events, Ryan began to ask Jill questions. From their dogs to their cats, phone numbers, and address, Jill could recall everything to Ryan and the doctors’ amazement. 


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Surprised, Ryan began to record everything so he could get video evidence. Did this sudden change mean Jill would live? He was confused and happy all at once.


She Can Breathe!

Ryan was beginning to get a grasp of what was going on. It wasn’t the last rally; Jill was awake and could breathe freely. 

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She could speak to the people around her, and everyone couldn’t contain their excitement at this unexpected turn of events. Ryan often describes this period as euphoric – like a living dream. 


Six Days Passed and It Only Got Better

As the days passed, Jill kept getting better, to everyone’s surprise. It seemed as if nothing ever happened. 


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According to Jill, the doctors didn’t consider her textbook material because of her shocking health improvement. But like most people, Jill couldn’t remember her past. The only event that stuck was the “big shower they wheeled her into daily.” 


“He Did The Right Thing”

Jill wasn’t disappointed when Ryan told him he had cut her off life support. To her, he made the right decision. “I would not want to leave like that. So, he did the right thing.” She said. 

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Jill didn’t want to be bedridden for the rest of her life, so she believed Ryan made the best decision by trying to prevent her from living that life. 


So, What Really Happened?

The doctors discovered that a congenital condition caused her heart to stop during her sleep on that fateful Sunday morning. But they were still confused about what triggered her recovery. 


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Although the doctors were not sure what happened exactly, Jill believed her husband and God saved her. Many people were praying for her, including her church members, family, and friends, so she was sure her recovery was a supernatural intervention from God. 


A New Beginning

Jill’s recovery was a fresh start for the couple. Her family was grateful for her recovery, but she still had a long way to go to be herself again. 

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She had to re-learn simple activities to get around independently. She also had to undergo a routine surgery that involved doctors planting a pacemaker to hear her heart and work with speech therapists. Regardless, she was genuinely grateful to live. 


A New Chance at Life

Ryan was excited to have his wife back. It was almost unbelievable for him. They stuck with each other and lived more happily than before. 


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It was as if the tragic incident made them realize they should make the most of every moment. According to the happy couple, “It brought life to a whole new perspective. We just want to spend every minute we can together and go everywhere together.”


It’s Their Honeymoon All Over Again

Although Jill underwent medical training to recover her speech and memory, she was grateful to God for feeling normal. 

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The event was a life-changing experience for her. In an interview, Jill admitted that the event positively changed her and Ryan’s outlook on their marriage, enabling them to anticipate every day spent together. “One of our friends said, ‘I’m so jealous; you guys are like newlyweds,’” Jill said.


“I Wouldn’t Change Anything”

Ryan and Jill might have been through the worst experiences of their lives, but they wouldn’t change a thing if they were to go through a similar event again. “I think it’s only human nature. But honestly, I wouldn’t change anything,”  Ryan said. 


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Ryan was nominated for an Oklahoma Heart Hero Award by the Oklahoma Heart Hospital for being a local citizen who performed CPR to save someone’s life.


Are We Okay?

Ryan made sure to do everything Jill wanted after she came out of the coma. He was thrilled to have her back and remained concerned for her safety. 

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According to him: “There’s still not a night that goes by that I don’t wake up. I’ll usually kick her, and if she kicks me back, I know we’re OK.”