Recently, World Medical Mission sent a team of cardiac specialists to Tenwek Hospital in Kenya to operate on 10 children in one week. During one surgery, prayer helped the surgeons as they faced difficulties.
By Phillip Kissinger, a staff chaplain who occasionally travels to provide spiritual care in areas where Samaritan’s Purse is working around the world.
Today was an emotional and trying roller coaster. It still hasn’t come to a stop. We had a good devotional this morning on being kind to one another. It is Thursday, and so it was good to remind ourselves that we have started to rub up against each other’s personalities and preferences. Kindness is the lubrication, and forgiveness resets the score.
One of the children, Elizabeth, had some difficulties. She was sick and weak to start with, and then she had heart surgery. Her tiny little body was on a surgical table surrounded by tubes, lines, hoses, lights, illuminated numbers everywhere, and concerned eyes over surgical masks. The surgery was proceeding rather well until there were some technical problems.
Her little heart was still and silent, and the big, scary stainless steel machine full of red fluid was not working for several breathless minutes. Then, with the bypass machine humming, pumping, and stirring again, the heart would not start. When it did start, it was out of rhythm and not pumping. This went on for hours it seemed. I felt as though I was in the operating room all day long, praying, eavesdropping, and listening for something positive on the team’s conversation.
Finally, the heart wearily began to pump. Would it continue? We waited 30 minutes to see. It did. The chest cavity was a bird’s nest of wires and tubes with a little heart for an egg. Pump, pump. We prayed. The bypass machine was doing all of the work so that the heart could rest and recover from its ordeal. It was pumping.
The surgeon ordered the bypass to three-quarters, and then to half to one-quarter. The weak little heart kept going, and the doctors turned off the machine. The heart was pumping. Although it wasn’t strong, it was doing the work. We were heading toward relief and thanksgiving. Precious little girl, pump your heart.
We continued to wait 30 more minutes. The heart worked. God is good. He saved this little one so far. Closing procedures began. I left and went with the nurse to speak to the anxious father. He was so relieved. He had tears of relief. We prayed.
She’s not well yet, but she’s on the way to recovery. She’s now in the hands of many scrubbed pediatric nurses in the recovery room. Pray for little Elizabeth. Her heart is so weak and frail, but it’s been repaired and God has spared her so far.
The team takes a little break, and the room is reset. The next small patient is carried into the operating room. What an amazing team of dedicated professionals. What an amazing God.
UPDATE: Elizabeth is still recovering but is doing well. Her doctor called her the “miracle case” of the week.