Doctors were ready to pull the plug.
The 13-year-old Alabama boy's parents had already signed a set of organ-donation papers. They braced themselves for the worst.
Then something happened that the medical team could not explain, the kind of thing that parents -- yes -- pray for in these circumstances.
As it turned out, the medical experts didn't know everything. For some unknown reason, this boy's brain woke up. Here is the top of the USA Today report:
Jennifer Nicole Reindl has a simple explanation for her young son's recovery from the brink of death due to severe brain injuries.
"It's a miracle," Reindl tells USA TODAY, citing her belief that the hand of God is behind it all.
As you can see, this story is going to have a religion angle -- a strong one. The problem is that there is zero evidence in this story -- which combined aggregation with new reporting -- that reporters or editors asked a single question about the details of this family's faith.
This is, as your GetReligionistas call it, a "generic" God story. Let's continue reading:
Trenton McKinley, 13, from Mobile, Ala., was so close to death after the brain trauma from a freak utility vehicle accident that his parents signed papers to donate his organs to five separate children needing transplants.
But the day before doctors were set to pull the plug on his life support systems in March, Trenton started showing signs of mental cognition, according to WALA, a FOX affiliate in Alabama. Trenton now says he went to heaven before he was brought back to Earth.
"I was in an open field walking straight,” Trenton told WALA. "There's no other explanation but God. There's no other way. Even doctors said it."
So that's the point at which it would be interesting, from a religion point of view, to ask a factual question or two about faith. to be blunt: What God are we talking about? Is the family Catholic? Evangelical? Vaguely spiritual Nones in the deep South?
Now, Bible Belt families facing traumas of this kind often have a minister at their side and/or friends from a local congregation. I realize that the doctors may not want to go on the record and talk about this drama, but it would be interesting to hear from a pastor, a close friend, etc.
But why ask people questions when you can read Facebook?
Let me stress that the mother's social media pages are a valid source for information about what the family was thinking and feeling through all of this. However, it would have been nice to have some official medical confirmation for passages such as the following, just to lend them even more authority:
Rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery with seven skull fractures, Trenton "died 4 times (and) one time for 15 min. The last time they brought him back he had no brain waves, a damaged brain stem and his heart only beat because of the (adrenaline)," Reindl wrote on Facebook.
On a fundraising page for medical expenses, Reindl noted that Trenton's "kidneys began to fail due to the lack of oxygen after his cardiac arrest."
Doctors "said the next time his heart stopped they had to let him die...or I could sign a paper to donate his organs to save five other kids... so I signed it... I knew he would not hesitate to save 5 more lives," the mother wrote on Facebook.
Now, the previously mentioned television report does include an additional medical detail, or two. This boy has been through a lot.
Just talking to the young boy, you would never believe he has already been through three brain surgeries. He's still got a long road ahead with a lot of medical expenses. Trenton currently only has half of his skull. The missing piece is frozen at the hospital. He will have surgery soon to reconnect it.
The final remarks in the USA Today story also hints -- to say the least -- at some kind of Christian background in this household. In social-media style, it's the mother who uses a lower-case "g" when writing "god."
While Trenton's road to recovery will continue and be full of obstacles, Reindl is fully thankful.
"God did for my son what he did for his own ... and I am so honored to have him back this is my testimony....god is good," she wrote.
So what we have here is your basic claim of a miracle, under remarkable circumstances. Then we have a child reporting a glimpse of heaven. Then we have a mother comparing her son's miraculous recovery to the Resurrection.
Yes, there is a little bit of religion in this story. Maybe the details of all that was worth a question or two from the USA Today team?