'I look at things differently than I used to – because I know God is in control'
A mother fervently praying while her teenage daughter lay, possibly dying, in intensive care received a blessing of encouragement when, to her astonishment, she believes she saw an angel in the hospital hallway.
Photo of an angel
Colleen Banton of Mint Hill, N.C., was in the waiting room when a nurse called her to see a video capture of the hallway outside the pediatric intensive care unit.
"On the monitor, there was this bright light," Banton told the Charlotte Observer. "And I looked at it and I said, 'Oh my goodness! It looks like an angel!'"
Banton quickly took a picture of what she saw, and the image stayed with her as her 14-year-old daughter, who has battled repeated illnesses since being born prematurely in 1993, miraculously recovered. Her daughter, Chelsea Banton, will turn 15 on Christmas Day.
Knowing some would doubt an angel was watching over Chelsea, her mother told the Observer, "If they doubt it, that's fine. … But I know what I saw, and the picture's untouched. I didn't make it up. That's just something that I believe.
"I believe that more people have changed since this happened. I know I have," said Banton. "I look at things differently than I used to – because I know God is in control."
Before Chelsea Banton was 2, the Observer reports, she was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, followed by a string of troubling health struggles: hydrocephalus, requiring a shunt in her skull; life-threatening viruses; and, this past July, a week in the hospital where doctors withdrew three liters of retained fluid from her body.
But on Sept. 21, Chelsea contracted a wicked cold that required her to be admitted to the hospital yet again and threatened to end her life.
Chelsea Banton, as she clung to life in a Charlotte hospital
"She was on life-support from the moment she got there," her mother said.
Over the next six weeks, Chelsea battled first pneumonia in her left lung, then her right lung, then sepsis, blood clots, staph infections, E. coli, a collapsed lung and feeding problems.
The stay in the hospital took its toll on Chelsea, who suffered increased anxiety attacks and fought, but failed, to breathe without a ventilator.
Through prayer and heartache, after weeks of battling, Chelsea's family asked the doctors to give her one more shot at breathing without the ventilator. And not to put it back in.
"I said, 'She's been through enough,'" Colleen told the Observer. "I said, 'Can we just take her mask off? She's been through enough.'
"I wanted to do what the Lord wanted me to do. And I really felt like I've had her for 14 years, and if it's time for her to go to heaven, then I know she'll be healed."
On the afternoon of Nov. 5, while the family was spending what may have been their last moments with Chelsea, the image appeared in the monitor.
"Within an hour," reports MSNBC, "the dying girl began a recovery that doctors are at a loss to explain."
"Her color was good, and the doctors and nurses were amazed," Colleen told the Observer. "The nurse practitioner who saw the image in the monitor said, 'I've worked here 15 years, and I've never seen anything like it.'"
As for Banton, she's convinced God intervened to save her daughter's life.
"I've never seen anything so bright, so beautiful," Banton told WBTV, Charlotte. "I don't think I would have brought Chelsea home from the hospital if the angel had not appeared."
Though others may doubt the appearance of the hospital hallway angel or the hand of God behind a "miraculous" recovery, Banton believes still holding her daughter after 15 years of medical struggles and trials is a blessing in itself.
"I'm learning," Banton told the Observer, "that every day she's alive is a miracle."