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From his death bed to his own bed: A Sudburian describes his Christmas 'miracle' comeback

Fern Demers was in the hospice, ready to die — now he's back home with his wife
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Fern and Yollande Demers at their home on Feb. 7. Three months ago, Fern was at Maison McCulloch Hospice and was expected to die. He calls his recovery a

Fern Demers was never one to believe in miracles, at least before November 2018.

Fern, 76, was admitted to Maison McCulloch Hospice on July 27, 2018, after his health quickly deteriorated as a result of his end-stage coronary artery disease.

His doctors said he wouldn't live through the summer.

“I felt like it, too,” Fern said from his home on Feb. 7.

Fern spent nearly four months at the hospice. Staff had to use a lift to get him out of bed and into his wheelchair. He was in a coma for days.

Fern's health was so bad, his wife, Yollande, called a priest to deliver his last rites.

Yollande said she slept with her phone by her bed and her clothes ready to go at a moment's notice.

But — somehow, someway — it wasn't Fern's time to go. 

At the beginning of November, his health suddenly improved. Overnight, Fern started moving around in his bed. In the morning, he sat up on the edge of his bed, something he hadn't been able to do before.

“I told my nurse I wanted to sit in my wheelchair, and my goal was to go to the washroom by myself,” he said. “I got into the wheelchair without their help, made it to the toilet and then went back to my bed, all by myself.”

The staff was astounded, he said.

“They said they had never seen anything like that.”

Over the next few days, Fern continued to get stronger, wheeling himself around the hospice by himself. 

“Then I said I wanted to try walking with a walker, and I did that,” he said. “My legs just got stronger and stronger.”

On Nov. 20 — almost unbelievably for his nurses, his family and himself — Fern went from his death bed to his own bed. He's on supervised care and pain medication to help with the symptoms of heart disease.

“I couldn't believe he was coming home,” said Yollande.

She said she had a difficult time with her husband being in the hospice, not knowing if and when he would die. She wouldn't even sit at their dining room table, because it didn't feel right without him there with her.

A lot of tears were shed over those four months, but she's beside herself with joy that he's now home with her.

Fern and Yollande have nothing but admiration for the staff at Maison McCulloch Hospice.

“I call them my angels,” he said.

Christmas was quiet this year, said Yolande. Their kids — they have four daughters — and grandkids visited, but they didn't stay long. 

“We played some board games, but it was a nice day,” she said. “We didn't cook a big meal, either. We either ordered in or went out to a restaurant when he felt well enough.”

Yolande wrote a letter to the editor of Northern Life and Sudbury.com. In it, she calls her husband her “Christmas gift.”

Fern is at a loss to explain his recovery.

“The only way I can explain this, is a miracle happened,” Fern said. “I didn't gradually get better. I got better overnight.”




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Arron Pickard

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