For more than two months, Bobbi Kristina Brown has remained in a coma and on life support as her family, along with fans throughout the world, offer prayers for her recovery.
Shortly after her collapse on Jan. 31, her family held a prayer vigil. Since then, they have repeatedly asked the public to join them in praying for the 22-year-old. One of her cousins even released a song called “Pray for BK.”
While the drama surrounding Whitney Houston’s daughter has played out publicly because of her fame, a similar scenario is repeated every day in this country among ordinary people: A person suffers a tragic accident or illness, lapses into unconsciousness, and their friends and family pray fervently for their recovery.
Often prayer circles are formed or entire congregations and Internet groups launch prayer efforts.
The question is: Does it help?
The answer from doctors and researchers is that the power of help does indeed appear to aid survival and recovery.
“I’ve seen many cases where medical professionals and even family members have given up, but through faith, prayer, and hope, these people have been restored,” Chauncey Crandall, M.D., tells Newsmax Health. “There is no scientific explanation for it, but it happens.”
Dr. Crandall, one of the nation's top cardiologists, is director of preventive medicine at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
He says he has personally witnessed cases in which people who were pronounced dead came back to life through the power of prayer, including one man who, like Brown, was feared to have suffered so much brain damage that all hope was gone.
That was the case of Gary Williams, a 55-year-old man who was exercising one morning when he collapsed. His heart stopped twice before reaching the hospital and doctors feared the lack of oxygen to his brain had doomed him.
“The doctors did brainwave tests on Gary, which showed that he had no function at all. They believed he was brain dead and were urging his wife to withdraw life support. She was fighting their decision,” Dr. Crandall recalled.
Dr. Crandall was brought in for a medical consultation and said he felt strongly that he should pray for Williams. So he did.
And as he was praying, “A miracle occurred. Just as doctors were preparing to disconnect the life support, Gary suddenly moved. He was not brain dead after all,” said Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report
Aside from astonishing anecdotal examples such as this, research has also found evidence that prayer can help heal the sick:
• A study at San Francisco General Hospital study looked at the effect of prayer on 393 cardiac patients. The patients were divided into two groups. Although both groups were told that people were praying for them, in fact, prayers were being said for only one group. The study, published in the Southern Medical Journal, found that the patients who were prayed for had more favorable outcomes, including fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, and they required less drug treatment.
• Researchers at Duke University Medical School looked at 150 cardiac patients who were admitted for coronary stenting. They were given the following nonmedical therapies: guided imagery, stress relaxation, healing touch, or intercessory prayer. Researchers found that only the patients that were being prayed for had lower complication rates and a quicker recovery.
• A massive 12-month study from a Kansas City hospital showed patients admitted with heart trouble did better when somebody was praying for them. None of the patients were told people were praying for them. Volunteers from a local church were given the first name of a patient on a piece of paper and asked to pray for that person.
“These things are real. They can’t be explained by science, but they show we should always keep our sense of faith,” said Dr. Crandall.
“People should not give up hope. They should continue to pray for Bobbi Kristina Brown.”
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