'The Miracle Man' Who Went to Heaven and Came Back - Guideposts (2022)

It was just after 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2007 when Darryl Perry died.

The former University of Florida fullback-turned-financial adviserand his wife,Nicky, had settled down to sleep around midnight after an otherwise normal day. Perry usually worked 16-hour days, Monday through Saturday. The father of three also coached his then-8-year-old son’s baseball team. A deeply spiritual man, Perry usually awoke around 4 a.m. to read the Bible and prayfor his wife and children before starting his day. Though the forty-year-old’s sudden cardiac death was a shock to his wife, family and friends, Perry knew it was coming.

Six months before, during his morning prayer time, he says God gave him a message. Alone in his room, Perry felt a hand touch his shoulder and a voice say,Son, you’re going to have to die on my behalf.

Shaken, Perry asked, “Who’s there? Is somebody in here?” He felt a calming presence and believed it was God. Unready to face the fate of death, he pushed the moment out of his mind and carried on with his day.

Things were going well for Perry, his wife and their three kids. They were happy. Life was good. He had never heard a message from God like this before. It couldn’t have been true.

Then, the Wednesday before his death, Perry heard the voice again.He had just dropped his two youngest children off at school.Son, it’s time, the voice said. This time, there was no denying what he’d heard. He sat in his truck in front of his children’s school and cried for 30 minutes, not wanting to leave them.

Buthe made it through the day, and the night, and a whole week, as usual. Until the morning his wife awoke to the sound of his unusual snoring. Then, Nicky says, he was gasping for breath and foaming at the mouth before he stopped breathing.

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“My spirit was in the air looking down on Nicky giving me mouth-to-mouth,” Perry tells Guideposts.org. “I watched the whole thing.”

There was no journey from his bedroom to Heaven that he can recall. The next thing he knew, he was just there, in a space of incredible brightness, warmth and indistinguishable colors.

“An angel God sent to receive me was named Gabriel,” Perry says. “He washuge.” The 6’2, 230 pound-Perry says Gabriel towered over him. With brown skin, a muscular frame, locs in his hairand an immeasurable wingspan, Gabriel never said a word to Perry and Perry never had any fear. When Gabriel pointed to his back, Perry climbed up to rest as Gabriel flew him through Heaven to see his loved ones who had passed on.

“I saw my uncle, my granddaddy, my wife’s grandmother,” Perry recalls. And then, he says, he saw God.

“God in Heaven is a bright light,” he says, as he was unable to make out any distinguishing features, only the presence of complete peace.

Perry began to celebrate, saying over and over to himself, “I made it! I made it in!”

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Back in the hospital, Perry’s body was hooked up to a life support machine. The neurologisttold Nicky that the only brain activity registering on the EEG machine was seizures, signs of dying brain cells. After an episode like Perry’s, she was told, irreparable brain damage and death happen within 4-6 minutes of the brain being without oxygen. It had taken paramedics 7 minutes to restore Perry’s heartbeat.

Perry’s body was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center and he was placed in a chamber to induce hypothermia to prevent any more brain damage while Nicky prayed for a miracle.

The neurologist suggested she prepare herself to take her husband off life support. Instead, she sought the second opinion of Dr. Ira Goodman in Central Florida.

******

In the presence of God, Perry says, there is no fear, no anger, only peace. In the middle of his celebration, Perry says God spoke to him.

“My people have forgotten my power,” he heard God say. “He said, ‘Son, go back.'” Perry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He didn’t want to go back. He refused. He said, “No!”

Then, he says God pulled back the veil between Heaven and earth and let him see his family. They were smiling, frozen, like in a picture. The same peace he felt when he realized he was in Heaven remained as he accepted returning to his body on earth.

*****

For days, Dr. Goodman would examine Perry, give him commands to obey and nothing would register. Perry would lie still in his bed, with no sound or movement beyond the whirring of machines. On March 27, day 11of Perry’s comatose state, Dr. Goodman came into his room, giving the same basic commands.“Open youreyes,” Dr. Goodman told Perry. That day, Perryopened them.

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Dr. Goodman had warned Nicky that even if Perry ever regained consciousness and could breathe on his own, he would be severely impaired, have no memory of himself or his family. He would never walkor speak again, he warned.

But when Perry opened his eyes, one of his nurses, named Missy,rushed to his side and asked him “Can you hear me?” Perry seemed to nodhis head. “I’m Missy. Can you say Missy?” She asked him and he mouthed the word Missy. By this time, Nicky had rushed in from the hallway and was on the other side of Perry, holding his hand. “Who is that beautiful woman standing on the other side of you?” Missy asked and Perry turned his head and saw his wife. “I love you,” he mouthed to her.

His doctors still have no explanation for his recovery, other than the nickname they gave him: “The Miracle Man.” For Perry, his return to earth is less of a mystery.

God’s words to him in Heaven, stick in the back of his mind: “My people have forgotten My power.” When asked why he thinks God sent him back he says, “Just talking to you [is] why I’m here.”

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“They said I would never talk, never know my family,” Perry says, 10 years after that early prognosis. “Well, I have proven them all wrong. I’m riding a bicycle. I walk every day andmy memory is off the charts.” Nothing but God’s power could bring all this to pass, he says.

Still, Perry continues to be in recovery. After his cardiac episode, he was diagnosed with cerebral hypoxia, a chronic brain illness caused when he lost oxygen to his brain. Perry has learned that being a walking, talking miracle doesn’t always mean total healing or frustration-free days.

“I have accepted the fact that I am always under a spotlight. People are always watching me,” he says of life after death.“It gets hard sometimes. It’s like I feel like I have to be perfect all the time.”

Perry takes his moments of frustration out on a punching bag he uses for therapy. Some days, he cries. Though his life will never be what it once was, Perry has no anger about returning in an alteredstate or about having to leave the most peaceful, beautiful place he’s ever experienced.

“I can’t be angry. I always ask God, ‘What would You have me do?’ I’m here because He sent me back for Him. But I will say, be careful what you ask God!” He says with a laugh.

Though thecharismatic motivational speaker now has a slower, slurred speech, his message is as strong as ever.

“I’m not a quitter. I will never quit,” he says.“As long as God gives me breath, I’m in the game.”

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FAQs

What happens if you die for 20 minutes? ›

Doctors have long believed that if someone is without a heartbeat for longer than about 20 minutes, the brain usually suffers irreparable damage. But this can be avoided, Parnia says, with good quality CPR and careful post-resuscitation care.

Who went to heaven and came back in the Bible? ›

Catholicism. Sacred Scripture teaches that Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven while still alive and not experiencing physical death.

What happens when you die? ›

During death, your body's vital functions stop entirely. Your heart no longer beats, your breath stops and your brain stops functioning. Studies suggest that brain activity may continue several minutes after a person has been declared dead. Still, brain activity isn't the same as consciousness or awareness.

What does heaven look like? ›

Clear as crystal. It had a great high wall with 12 gates. And at the gates. 12 angels. And on the

When someone is dying what do they see? ›

Visual or auditory hallucinations are often part of the dying experience. The appearance of family members or loved ones who have died is common. These visions are considered normal. The dying may turn their focus to “another world” and talk to people or see things that others do not see.

How long does the brain live after death? ›

An unexpected discovery made by an international team, examining the results of an EEG on an elderly patient, who died suddenly of a heart attack while the test was in progress.

Can you survive if your heart stops for 20 minutes? ›

Cardiac arrest can be fatal if it lasts longer than 8 minutes without CPR. Brain damage can happen after just 5 minutes. Cardiac arrest treatment should start right away, even if you're not in the hospital.

What happens if you die for 10 minutes? ›

At the one-minute mark, brain cells begin dying. At three minutes, neurons suffer more extensive damage, and lasting brain damage becomes more likely. At five minutes, death becomes imminent. At 10 minutes, even if the brain remains alive, a coma and lasting brain damage are almost inevitable.

Can you die for 12 minutes? ›

If CPR is not performed within two to three minutes of cardiac arrest, brain injury can become worse. After nine minutes, brain damage is extremely likely. Since blood and oxygen are not able to reliably reach the brain, the chance of surviving cardiac arrest after 10 minutes is very low.

Can you die for 30 minutes? ›

Most tissues and organs of the body can survive clinical death for considerable periods. Blood circulation can be stopped in the entire body below the heart for at least 30 minutes, with injury to the spinal cord being a limiting factor.

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