Boy “comes back to life” after parents sign papers to donate his organs

Trenton McKinley

(by Devan Coffaro, FOX10 News) – An Alabama teen is being called a miracle boy after suffering severe brain trauma from a dune buggy accident. His family says he “came back to life” after they signed the paperwork to donate his organs.

13-year-old Trenton McKinley of Mobile was playing at a friend’s house two months ago. He was riding in a small utility trailer being pulled by a dune buggy for kids. Trenton says his friend pressed on the brakes suddenly, causing the trailer to flip. He says he quickly threw his friend’s 4-year-old niece off into the grass, but in the process, got caught in the trailer as it flipped.

“I hit the concrete and the trailer landed on top of my head. After that, I don’t remember anything,” said Trenton.

He was rushed to USA Medical Center for emergency surgery, and was later transferred to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. He had seven skull fractures.

“All I saw was a stretcher with his feet hanging out. He was dead a total of 15 minutes,” said his mother, Jennifer Reindl, with tears in her eyes. “When he came back, they said he would never be normal again. They told me the oxidation (oxygen depravation) problems would be so bad to his brain, that he would be a vegetable if he even made it.”

The family says for the next several days, Trenton was on life support and barely breathing. Reindl says she was approached by doctors to make a difficult decision. She and Trenton’s father signed the papers to donate his organs.

“Five kids needed organs that matched him,” said Reindl. “It was unfair to keep bringing him back, because it was just damaging his organs even more.”

A day before doctors were going to take him off life support, Trenton started showing small signs of cognition. He began breathing on his own and woke up speaking full sentences, his mother wrote on a Facebook fundraising page.

He believes he was in heaven while he was gone. “I was in an open field walking straight,” said Trenton. “There’s no other explanation but God. There’s no other way. Even doctors said it.”

Slowly but surely, Trenton is making strides beyond what anyone expected, but it’s not without a struggle. He’s lost 50 pounds, and deals with nerve pain and seizures daily. [He has had three brain surgeries and will have another procedure to reconnect the missing piece of his skull.] Despite all that, this kid’s still got a great sense of humor.

“I said I could turn sideways and put salsa in there and eat chips and dip out of my head. No more washing dishes for me!” laughed Trenton as he referred to the dent in his head. “She wouldn’t let me put nothing in it though. I really wanted to see if I could.”

Just talking to the young boy, you would never believe he has already been through three brain surgeries. He’s still got a long road ahead with a lot of medical expenses. Trenton currently only has half of his skull. The missing piece is frozen at the hospital. He will have surgery soon to reconnect it.

[“He’s a miracle and he just amazes everybody. Every day, he just does more and more,” his mother said.]

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Fox10 News.


1. How did 13-year-old Trenton McKinley get injured?

2. What did doctors tell Trenton’s mother after he flatlined (had no brain waves or heartbeat) for 15 minutes?

3. What was Trenton’s condition for several days after the accident?

4. a) What did doctors ask/suggest to Trenton’s parents at that time?
b) Why did his parents agree to take him off life support?

5. a) What happened the day before Trenton was set to be taken off of life support and his organs donated?
b) To what / to whom does Trenton (and doctors) attribute his miraculous recovery?

6. How does this story inspire you?

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