Human Interest Former Miss Virginia, 82, Comes Back to Life After Being Declared Dead from COVID-19: 'A Miracle' Barbara Guthrie Lay is in recovery after she was pronounced dead on Dec. 22 By Gabrielle Chung Published on January 5, 2021 07:29 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Barbara Guthrie Lay. Photo: facebook Barbara Guthrie Lay, who won the title of Miss Virginia in 1958, has been hailed a miracle after being declared dead by doctors who are treating her for novel coronavirus. The 82-year-old former pageant queen was pronounced dead on Dec. 22 but minutes later it was discovered she had a pulse, her husband Tony Lay told local news station WSET. Guthrie Lay had been admitted to the hospital two days prior after experiencing difficulties in breathing, according to the outlet. The hospital first called Guthrie Lay's son, Thom Kelley, to inform him that his mother had died, the Martinsville Bulletin reported. After he relayed the message to Lay, Kelley — who is a physician himself — received another call saying that doctors had detected a faint pulse on his mother after they stopped resuscitation. "As a physician, I will say without hesitation there is only one word for what has happened over the past week — a miracle," Kelley told the newspaper. Electrocuted Man, 20, Was Revived 20 Minutes After Being Declared Dead: 'Miraculous' According to Lay, he was in the process of informing other family members about his wife's purported death when he learned that she is actually alive. "I was overjoyed and tearful again," he recalled to WSET. "I went from being miserable and brokenhearted to overjoyed." Lay said doctors are unsure what happened. Incredibly, Guthrie Lay has since been moved from the intensive care unit to a regular room as she continues to recover. "I have always loved my wife," Lay said. "I just didn't realize exactly how much until this happened and that I can't live without her." Pennsylvania Man Feared Frozen to Death Comes Back to Life: 'It's a Miracle' "Anyone that knows my mom is aware of her tenacity, her desire to live to 101, and, yes, her stubbornness," Kelley told the Bulletin. "All of this has helped her get to this place, but she most certainly would not be here today without all of the love, prayers and support that everyone has lifted up." Guthrie Lay's longtime friend Howard Huff described the ordeal as a "Christmas miracle," telling the outlet that the former Miss Virginia was in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator prior to the incident. "Lots of people have been praying for her, and those prayers have been answered," he said. Huff added of Guthrie Lay, "She has this incredible will to live and always says she plans to live until she's 101." As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.