Brought back from the brink of death, he wrestled with the reality of losing his limbs
All photos courtesy of Jason Leong.
Within 24 hours of coming down with a high fever, Jason Leong was lying in the intensive care unit. Earlier that evening, he had noticed traces of blood in his urine, and his fingers, toes and lips were turning blue.
Though the doctors did not know it at the time, Jason had a bacterial infection in his blood. By the next day, he was in a coma, and his liver, lungs and kidney had begun to fail.
His family was told to be prepared to lose him that day and to say their goodbyes. That was April 3, 2019. Today, Jason is miraculously alive, but has had more than 10 surgeries, losing his toes, feet, lower legs and fingers due to gangrene.
This is his story, as told to Gabriel Ong.
I was dying, fast. But when I was in that coma, it was really strange.
My mind was very alert. I found myself in this darkened hospital, like a dingy hospital. It felt like a really bad place. There was not much physical light, and it was always very dimly lit.
I found my mind calculating weird stuff. It was just engaged in something that seemed to go on in an endless loop.
After that, I would wake up in another place again. There were rooms with whirring machines, and I could hear the machines beeping.
Then there was a place that was practically like a butcher shop. I could see pieces of meat hanging and smell the blood. I was trying to get out of this place.
And then later on, I felt this really strange accusation that I had bombed the hospital. But then I seemed to be bedridden all the time. How would I be able to go somewhere and get it done?
I even saw familiar faces, like my bosses and good friends coming in, and I had to say, “please leave, please leave”.
I really believed that the hospital was going to explode. And then I did hear some explosions. I was trying to make sense of what was happening.
In the next scene, the nurses found out that I had bombed the hospital. In that dingy place, they started taking revenge on me.
It felt like the nurses came and they would inject me with stuff, and I would really feel the life flow out of me.
Then they would inject again and I would really feel it coming back again. They were just prolonging the torture.
As the accusations and condemnation began to intensify, I felt like I was sinking in somewhere dark and things were just starting to fade away. It was just overwhelming.
All this while I had so many questions. I remember talking to God and saying: “God, what’s happening?”
It didn’t make sense to me. But then it suddenly dawned on me that I had yet to call upon the name of Jesus.
So I shouted: “Jesus, come and save me!” And that was where it changed totally.
At once, I saw God on a throne. It was a bright green crystalline scene – the glory was hard to describe.
God was holding in his right hand a wooden staff. He was very upset. There was an indignant look on His face that seemed to say “this should not be the case”.
He grabbed me by the collar and said: “Come, let’s go.”
Then He fought his way out of that dark place I was in. I felt a lot of force, a lot of movements.
And then almost immediately I was brought to a clear, bright place, something I had not seen all the while I was there. It was a huge hilltop. Bright, sunny. Just a nice and open space.
And that was the moment when I started to regain consciousness – towards the end of the third day in hospital.
I woke up from my coma on April 5, 2019. In a last-ditch attempt to save me, the doctors had tried an antibiotic that I was supposed to be allergic to. And it worked.
It was not until a week later before I could properly recount the events and have my wife, Ruth, record them down.
It felt like the battle was both in the physical and spiritual realm. While I was in a coma, word of my condition was sent out and so many people were praying for me.
I believe I had witnessed those events in my spirit because I had never had such dreams or nightmares before.
I slowly recovered from the bacterial infection thereafter, but it continued to be a confusing time for me and Ruth.
Although we were seeing miracles of my organs being healed ahead of schedule, I have since undergone more than 10 operations to amputate my toes, feet, lower legs and fingers as the blood infection was so severe that it had blocked the flow of blood to these areas.
Two toes from my left feet were also later grafted onto my right hand to preserve their use.
I was literally on the chopping board – parts of me were chopped off, bit by bit.
Everything I thought I was good at, as a husband, as a father, as a man, was flung out of the window.
I always thought my role as a father would be one who protects, one who confers values, one who disciplines. And I like to be very hands on as a father. I play, take care of things, do stuff.
But suddenly all my physical abilities were stripped from me. I didn’t even look like a protector. My identity and everything that I could relate to was shaken.
Yet God kept reminding us of His faithfulness. As Ruth and I continued to sing songs of worship, He gave us a lot of peace.
Throughout this journey, it has been God’s peace that transcends all understanding that has guarded our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).
It has certainly been hard for our family. But I’m very grateful to recover from what I went through in a year.
My daughter’s climbing on top of me… we’re still doing piggybacks. And I’m roughhousing with my boy all the time. I’m so glad I get to do it again.
My wife kept encouraging me to find alternative ways to do things and play my part as a father and as a husband. It was not straightforward, but I chose to press in and not pull away.
Gradually, God revealed that I’m not limited by my disability – my role hasn’t changed. As a para-athlete once said: “We don’t do different things; we just do things differently.”
I didn’t pull back from the things I wanted. I didn’t allow myself to disappear. I made an active decision to enter into my kids’ lives, into my family’s lives.
Moving forward, we definitely want to live life to the fullest.
I don’t feel that walking, running or even hiking is an issue – it’s just about how fast. I’m only hindered by blisters. Physiotherapy is also aiding my recovery.
Above all these, however, is the promise that I’ll walk again.
I keep having vivid dreams of me with legs. Other friends have also separately come up to me to share that they have had visions of me standing, walking and talking to people.
We continue to wait for a supernatural miracle. But even if we don’t see one, as one pastor has said, the absence of a miracle does not define the nature of God.
I don’t want my story to be one of human triumph, simply taken as a tale about the strength of the human spirit.
As much as my friends tell me that I’m a strong guy, I’ll tell them, no man, the strength comes from above.
In all that I’ve been through, I would like God’s glory to be very evident.
This article was first published on Stories of Hope and has been republished with permission.
THINK + TALK
- Have you lost something that meant a lot to you or suffered a major setback in life? How did you move on from it?
- What area of your life would you like God’s glory to be more evident in?
- Do you believe that God can still do miracles today? Why or why not?