Speed Reads


Boy wakes up from diagnosed brain death a day before his organs were to be donated

Trenton McKinley has been dead more often than most 13-year-olds. The Mobile, Alabama, teenager was first dead for about 15 minutes after he suffered seven skull fractures when a friend's dune buggy trailer flipped over. "I hit the concrete and the trailer landed on top of my head," McKinley told WALA-TV. "After that, I don't remember anything." Doctors told his parents that even if McKinley woke up, "he would never be normal again," said Jennifer Reindl, his mother. "They told me the oxidation problems would be so bad to his brain, that he would be a vegetable if he even made it."

The parents signed paperwork to donate their son's organs to five children in Birmingham who needed them, but a day before the doctors were going to remove McKinley from life support, he started registering signs of cognition. "The next day he was scheduled to have his final brain wave test to call his time of death but his vitals spiked so they canceled the test," Reindl told CBS News on Sunday. "From no brain waves to now walking and talking and reading, doing math. A miracle."

McKinley isn't out of the woods — he is in a lot of pain, he has seizures, and during one of the three brain surgeries he has already undergone, he died four times, Reindl said. And about half of his skull is frozen in the hospital waiting for one final surgery to reconnect it. McKinley told WALA-TV that while he was unconscious, he believes he was in heaven. "I was in an open field walking straight," he said. "There's no other explanation but God. There's no other way. Even doctors said it."