“I had been sick for about two weeks, which felt like the flu,” Yvonne recalls, ““And I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve got to get to a doctor and just get some antibiotics.” I just hadn’t taken the time to do it.””
Yvonne Sklar didn’t have the flu. She had pneumonia and it was getting worse.
“I realized that my breathing was so shallow that I couldn’t hear it, and I said, ‘What’s going on, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘Trust me.’”
Then Yvonne collapsed. She was taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where Dr. Takkin Lo discovered the severity of her illness.
“Out of the six lobes in her lung, four of them were actually involved in the pneumonia,” Dr. Lo remembers. Tests revealed that the infection had spread into her bloodstream and Yvonne was going into septic shock. Dr. Lo told her she would need to be intubated and put into a medically induced coma so they could treat the infection, but Yvonne was resistant.
“I didn’t think I would ever wake up,” Yvonne recalls. “And I kept telling him, ‘I’ve had a really good life, and I know where I’m going, and it’s okay just to let me go.’”
“She and I had a very heart-to-heart talk,” says Dr. Lo. “We prayed with each other, and then I look into her eyes and I told Yvonne, ‘Look at me. This will be the last person you get to see before you wake up the next time.’”
Meanwhile, Chaplain Donna Herrick, Yvonne’s supervisor, and friend, rallied people to pray.
“I took the lead in that and gathered my students, so every day someone could go and pray with her,” says Donna. “We gathered as her family.”
Then Yvonne’s organs began to fail. She coded three times over the next two weeks.
“For each of the organs that failed, there is an associated approximately 20% chance of dying,” Dr. Lo explains, “So her lungs failed, her heart failed, her kidneys failed, her endocrine system, which is the blood sugar, was going out of control. So at that moment, she had approximately seventy to eighty percent chance of dying.”
Since Yvonne had no family present, doctors and friends met to consider turning off her life support. As a long-time chaplain, Donna had seen this many times before.
“When you are on a respirator like that, day after day after day, this is not something you recover from,” says Donna. “You don’t expect that. I had prepared myself that she was not gonna survive.”
Later, Donna felt God told her to go to her friend’s side.
“She didn’t appear to be with me, but she wasn’t gone either,” Donna recalls, “And I took her hand and I said to her, ‘Yvonne, I love you, and it’s okay if you wanna stay where you are, go on to stay with the Lord, it is absolutely ok. I will miss you; we will miss you. But it’s ok.’”
Donna didn’t know that at the time, Yvonne was already in heaven.
“I remember when I left my body that I was in a beautiful, beautiful field,” Yvonne recalls. “The flowers were so vibrant and alive. There are no words to describe what it’s like to be in the presence of Jesus, the love and the light and the purity. The love is insurmountable; it is all-consuming. The music was more beautiful than any tabernacle choir, any orchestra; it sounds like hundreds of thousands of people praising God. There isn’t even an inkling of any other emotion than happy.”
Yvonne says they walked through heaven.
“And he told me, ‘I tell you in my word, to ask for all things small or large,’” says Yvonne. “And people don’t either feel worthy or they feel like they’re bothering him or it’s too much to ask or that they don’t believe in Christ or heaven. And he says, ‘But remember to tell people ‘ask.””
Then Jesus told her she had to go back and asked her to deliver a message.
“’I want you to tell people everything that I’ve shown you,’” Yvonne remembers, “‘I want you to tell them about my love, my forgiveness, and that they can come as they are. I want them to repent with a sincere heart and follow my laws.'”
Then, three days before she was scheduled to be taken off life support, Yvonne woke up.
“What was so amazing about that was just the shift of going from death to life,” says Donna. “You know, just intubated, pale, just the things that happen to the human body when they’re intubated that long. They just…there’s no life. And then to walk in the room, I mean she’s not up doing dances, but she was Yvonne. But very quickly she progressed to a regular room and then she was gone to rehab. It was…amazing! Amazing.”
“Coming back was bittersweet,” Yvonne says. “First of all, you’re in this body again, which is very cumbersome and it’s very limiting. In heaven, there’s no limitation. And I was talking about heaven as soon as they put a little device on my throat.”
While Yvonne’s recovery was long and difficult, she bounced back, and Dr. Lo is astounded by her progress.
“Yvonne is a miracle,” Dr. Lo declares. “Normally, it’s very hard for a patient like her to have such a miraculous recovery and to the point where she can go back to the community at large and kinda contribute actively.”
Later she married Rick, one of the faithful friends who prayed for her recovery. Yvonne believes that she was brought back for a very special reason.
“I think that my entire mission on earth is to share what happened to me in heaven and how much his love is and his forgiveness and what it’s like there,” says Yvonne. “I don’t even have enough words or adjectives to describe it. It’s just a place that I’m looking forward to going back to, and I want as many people to go with me as possible.”