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Tom Ebel

One Young Man Credits Faith and Erlanger For His Second Chance at Life

On December 26, 2006, 26-year-old Tom Ebel was flying from Michigan to Florida with friends when the unthinkable happened. His plane plowed through the trees and crashed in a front yard near Jasper, Tennessee.  The pilot and the pilot’s mother were killed. Tom and the pilot’s wife were severely injured. Both were flown via LIFE FORCE to the Erlanger Baroness Campus.

A little more than an hour before the crash, Tom, had sent his mother, Cathy Ebel, a text message thanking her for the wonderful time he had celebrating Christmas with his family and describing the beautiful view from the airplane window. “God is great,” he typed. Tom ended the message with, “I love you.”

Eight hours later, after investigators found Tom’s passport in the wreckage, Cathy received a call from the medical examiner and learned her son was severely injured and had been transported to the area’s trauma center in Chattanooga.

When she and her husband arrived at Erlanger Tom was in a coma and was being treated for a collapsed lung, multiple fractures to his arm and back, and was paralyzed on his left side.

“Those first few days we didn’t think Tom was going to make it,” remembers Cathy. “We clung to our faith and the support from Tom’s team of nurses and physicians, as well as the wonderful support from the folks we came in contact in the Chattanooga community, to get us by.” 

Three days later, on his father’s birthday, Tom opened his eyes.

After slowly being weaned off life support, Tom spent another two weeks at Erlanger before being moved to an inpatient rehabilitation center in Michigan.

Tom credits the physicians and staff at Erlanger for making his remarkable recovery possible. “The folks at Erlanger, along with God, gave me my ‘get-out-of-jail-for-free’ card. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the medical expertise and care I received while I was there.”

His family couldn’t say enough about their experience. Cathy recalls, “We were shown so much love and support from not only the physicians, nurses and hospital staff, but it felt like the whole community was right there supporting us She says, “The Chattanooga community has a special place in our family’s hearts for all they did while Tom was in the hospital.”

“God has given me a second chance and I know he has great things ahead for me,” says Tom.