A 14-year-old Missouri boy who was dead for 45 minutes made a miraculous and unexpected recovery.

John Smith fell into an icy lake on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He was trapped underwater for 15 minutes, and a medical team unsuccessfully performed CPR for 30 minutes. Still, Smith had no pulse.

Doctors called Smith’s mother in to say her goodbyes, and she began to pray. That’s when doctors say Smith’s heart started up again.

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"She started praying loudly," says Dr. Sutterer.

"I don't remember what all I said," recalls John's mother, Joyce Smith. "But I remember, 'Holy God, please send your Holy Spirit to save my son. I want my son, please save him.' And they hadn't been getting a pulse at that time, so all of a sudden I heard them saying, 'We got a pulse, we got a pulse.'"

"Within a matter of a minute or two, his heart started again," says Dr. Sutterer.

It's an experience that's shaken many of those in the emergency room that day. This veteran of responding to medical crisis wrote a letter about it as a way to cope.

"His heart was jump started by the Holy Spirit listening to the request of his praying mother," reads Dr. Sutterer, from the letter he wrote.

Dr. Jeremy Garrett who oversaw John's recovery even goes a step further. "It's a bonafide miracle."

John was airlifted to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center about two hours after the accident. Dr. Garrett says he knew within about the first 16 hours after John's arrival that his body would physically survive the ordeal what he didn't know was how much brain function he would have.

Dr. Garrett watched John's body react to being under water so long: his circulatory system went into shock, acid built up in his bloodstream.

But within 48 hours, family members reported things he didn't expect. Like John opening his eyes.

Then, relatives told him this teen who loves to play and watch basketball was responding to questions about his two favorite players.