Celebration of Life features tales of near-death experiences
AUSTINTOWN — In 2020, Canfield resident Jeff Fusco said it was his faith in God and prayers from friends, co-workers and family that helped him survive COVID-19.
Fusco was among the speakers at a recent Celebration of Life event at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Center in Austintown of people who have had near-death experiences.
Fusco said his own health crisis was not just about him, but about everyone who is a believer and realizing the blessings each of us has.
“We need to step back and celebrate life and take time to reflect on what God is doing through many people’s lives,” he said.
Fusco said in March 2020, he became very sick and did not know what it was.
”I could barely make it through the day. I would get home from work and go right to bed and then get up the next morning and go to work. I was at work one day and was coughing and sweating,” he said.
At the time, news of the COVID-19 pandemic had just started.
He said he eventually went to St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital because he could hardly open his eyes or talk.
”It hit me so hard and so fast. I could barely open my eyes or barely talk. I wasn’t able to eat or drink,” said Fusco, who said in his 35 years of work at GBS Corp, he never missed work.
He then was moved to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and later had to be taken by helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic when his organs began to fail and he was put on dialysis and had a fever of 104 degrees and had to be packed with ice around him. Fusco said he spent 21 days on a ventilator, noting when you are on a ventilator more than eight days, it is considered dangerous.
“I never realized how sick I was. There were so many people praying for me. I never realized how many people were praying for me,” he said.
Fusco said at his worst, he remembers being wrapped in God’s arms and being in complete peace.
After a short time, his vision improved as did his organs, and he was removed from dialysis.
“This was a miracle. I share my story with people around the world,” Fusco said.
Jeanette Levellie, an author of “The Four Powers of Yes, No, Love, and Prayer” and inspirational speaker, joined Fusco on stage for the event.
Levellie said she interviewed people who had near-death experiences for Guidepost magazine as part of a series of stories.
“They contacted me about my story, which is amazing. Jeanette was assigned to interview me,” Fusco said.
“These are very important stories to share from people who have lived to tell of what they experienced and saw,” Levellie said, noting she wrote six of the stories for the series.
In addition to Fusco’s story, Levellie said she interviewed a woman who choked and was deceased for a short time and told of seeing Jesus in her hospital room.
Levellie said people have told her they have seen a river of jewels in heaven.
“Everyone I have spoken to have told of meeting Jesus and God, and have no regrets about coming back. One thing is typical is they have no regret of what happened to them but only peace and joy. … Jesus paid the price for us to go to heaven,” she said.
Nick Moliterno, religious education director at the parish, said people need to wake up each day and realize the blessings they have from God and thank Him.
“Thank God each day for your blessings. We are all gathered here together to remind ourselves that every day is a gift from God. Despite all the triumphs and tribulations that we may face daily, we are blessed everyday for the simple things that all of us take for granted,” Moliterno said.
He said it is important to celebrate all that life has to offer, which is a gift from God.
Eugene Calabria, a friend of Fusco, said Fusco’s story is a miracle.
”It was a miracle that he survived. His life impacted so many people in so many ways. God uses people to impact others in different ways. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for more than 30 years,” he said.
Calabria said Fusco’s miraculous turnaround reaffirmed his faith in the power of prayer.