LEWISTON — Pam Dumont was just finishing dinner when she got the sense that something was terribly wrong.

Pam, 64, and her husband Jim, 66, were visiting his elderly parents at their home in Monmouth. It was a nice fall day and Jim had gone out for a walk barely 15 minutes before. He wasn’t even close to being late.

But as Pam stood in the kitchen, dread overwhelmed her.

Her mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease and wasn’t safe to leave alone, but Pam didn’t feel she had much choice. She covered the food dishes and pulled the knobs off the stove, then went off in search of her husband.

At the end of the driveway, she spotted two ambulances and a police car silently parked down the road. As she got closer, she saw her husband on the ground.

He’d collapsed in the road a few minutes into his walk. Two neighbors and a stranger had stopped to help and call 911. Emergency workers were struggling to resuscitate him.

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“He was without oxygen and a heartbeat for a minimum of eight to 13 minutes,” Pam said. “He wasn’t breathing. I’ve never seen him look like this. His eyes were red and yellow; they were like glass. It was like, ‘Oh, my husband is gone.’ It was a hard, hard moment. For three-and-a-half hours, I thought he was dead.”

Jim and Pam Dumont at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston soon after he came out of a coma. (Photo courtesy Dumont family)

Her husband of 42 years wasn’t dead, but he was only barely alive. He’d had a heart attack, the kind often referred to as a widow-maker.

At Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, doctors put him in a coma.

Although they were both originally from Maine, Jim and Pam had been living in Pennsylvania for years. Her first call was to the Erie Christian Fellowship Church, where both she and Jim were pastors. Within 10 minutes, the church had organized an emergency prayer meeting. One hundred people showed up and prayed for three hours.

It would be the first of many prayer meetings for Jim held by loved ones, church leaders, church members and complete strangers who’d heard about their plight. Some prayer meetings were held in person, others held virtually online.

His coma was expected to last 36 hours. Six days later, he still hadn’t woken up.

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“One of the intensive care doctors said, ‘He’s got brain damage. He’s not waking up. He’s not responding to pain,’” Pam said. “He was opening his eyes a little bit.”

Later that morning, their four grandchildren from Pennsylvania prayed at Jim’s bedside. Then they began singing a made-up song popular in the family.

Jim and Pam Dumont stand outside the New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland this fall. Jim’s rehab was expected to last for months; he was discharged in 19 days. (Photo courtesy Dumont family)

He woke up.

“He not only woke up, but he became alert. He knew what was happening,” Pam said. “The nurses in the intensive care (unit) came in and they began to weep. Some of them cried. He became the golden boy of the ICU.”

Medical personnel told Pam they’d never seen anything like it.

He began making a week’s worth of progress each day. He was sent to Portland for rehab that was expected to last for months; he was discharged in 19 days.

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“He’s a walking, talking miracle,” Pam said.

Jim remembers nothing of his Sept. 24 collapse or his time in the coma. He’s now back home in Pennsylvania, back to work part-time and participating in cardiac rehab. He has no medical problems stemming from his lack of oxygen or the extended coma. His heart is undamaged.

Jim and his wife attribute his miraculous recovery to the power of prayer.

“When we go out into the stores, people have come up to us and said, ‘I was praying for you. You don’t know me, but my name is so-and-so,’” Pam said. “Our hearts just melted. It’s just a celebration.”

They’re looking forward to Christmas to celebrate just that.

“Pam has decorated the house like never before,” Jim said.

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“Because he’s the gift,” Pam added.

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