Rivka Toledano, an emergency-room nurse, recalls a miraculous occurrence she witnessed while working in a Canadian hospital.

We’re in the middle of a snowstorm, which means the ER can get pretty crazy. Chanukah is starting that night, and I am looking forward to completing my shift and going home to light the menorah with my family.

Around 11We’re in the middle of a snowstorm a.m., I see a middle-aged couple walking in. Mark Kramer, an overweight man, looks pale and sweaty. His wife Debbie anxiously explains that, despite her warnings, Mark had been shoveling the snow in their driveway. When he began to feel ill, she drove him straight to the ER, despite his protests that it wasn’t necessary.

Suddenly, right before our eyes, Mark collapses on the floor, the result of a massive heart attack. Alerted by Debbie’s frantic screams, Dr. Schwartz rushes over and starts providing CPR, resuscitation, defibrillation and drugs for heart rhythm. Despite all these efforts to save him, Mark is still in cardiac arrest. I count no less than 10 episodes of defibrillation.

Debbie remains glued to Mark’s side until Dr. Schwartz asks her to leave. Sobbing, she phones her children and her rabbi, frantically begging them to pray for Mark’s life.

Back in the ER, the doctor looks grim, commenting that people don’t survive heart attacks with prolonged resuscitation, since sufficient oxygen can’t get to the heart or brain. Gently, he breaks the devastating news to Debbie that Mark probably won’t survive. Totally distraught, Debbie explains how he’d insisted on shoveling the driveway. “I kept warning him not to, telling him it wasn’t safe for a man his age to shovel snow, and to wait until our son got home or else borrow our neighbor’s snowblower, but he wouldn’t listen! How do I tell our kids they’ve lost their dad?” she cries hysterically.

Dr. Schwartz, who doesn’t appear to be religious, says, “We’ve tried everything we could, but it’s not working. The only thing left to do now is pray.”

So that’s what we do. The whole ER team and Debbie, we pray together for Mark’s life, hanging so precariously in the balance.

Forty-five tense minutes pass in agonizing silence, but Mark still doesn’t have a pulse. Then, just when we’re about to sadly admit defeat, the miracle occurs.

“We’ve got a pulse!” Dr. Schwarz calls out excitedly.

The ultrasound machine indicates that Mark has some cardiac activity—a tiny sign of life and hope. Awestruck, we realize we’re witnessing a miracle before our eyes.

Debbie, tears flowing down her stricken face, murmurs, “Thank G‑d.”

Dr. Schwartz sends Mark to the operating room for emergency heart surgery. He explains, “Though Mark is stable and we’re thankful for that, he’s not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. We still need your prayers for a good outcome.” Mark’s family, friends and rabbi continue to pray fervently as surgeons perform open-heart surgery for three hours. They say there are no atheists in foxholes—or waiting outside an operating room either.

A day-and-a-half later, Mark wakes up to see Debbie and their children sitting anxiously around his hospital bed, looks at them, and says “Hi.” He is completely unaware of what happened to him.

Here’s a man who, the day before, had been totally blue. With a 45-minute-long resuscitation, it’s unbelievable. By all standard measures, Mark should have died. But he didn’t. He survives physically and mentally, is sitting up and talking the next day. This has got to be Divine intervention. Since it is Chanukah, we keep saying: “A great miracle happened here.”

Mark is released from the hospital in only 10 days. Waiting for him in their driveway is a belated yet significant Chanukah gift from Debbie and their children: a new snowblower, decorated with a huge, red-heart-shaped bow.

Mark collapses on the floor with a massive heart attack

Debbie says, “This whole experience has made me appreciate Mark more, helping me realize what’s truly important in life. We need to appreciate our spouses, our families and what G‑d has given us.”

Mark agrees. “My family and I realize that without those prayers going on that day, I wouldn’t be alive now. For some reason, I merited to be spared. Now I make sure to pray three times a day!”

I’ve seen many fascinating things during my years as an ER nurse, but this case was clearly a modern-day Chanukah miracle!