Ultrasound images made the nurse gasp.
"What's the matter?"
"I will call the doctor."
The door opened but no one came in the room. They heard a thud, then shuffling feet and the hollow metallic scrape of a walker. Slowly the eighty year old specialist came into view. Clutching her walker, she was unavailable for handshakes. While their, "What's the matter?" hung in the air, the pediatric cardiologist slowly crossed the room.
Everyone looked down at the screen except the physician, whose hunched frame brought thick spectacles to the heart of the matter. Mom, dad and nurse watched as she studied the grainy images. Turning to the couple, she patted their hands and said, "We are going to become very good friends."
His first heart surgery was within hours of his birth; the next one across state lines a few days later. As complications increased, the number of qualified hospitals decreased. From her walker, the pediatric cardiologist coordinated hospital communications but choosing the hospital was the family's responsibility.
Sitting in the police station on a Friday night at 8 pm, he asked himself, "Which group of strangers should be entrusted with our son's life?" As he struggled, the departmental chaplain walked in.
"What are you doing here on a Friday night chaplain?"
"Came back to gather some paperwork. What's going on with you? Are you alright?"
"Can you tell me what's going on?"
Openly sharing his struggle for the first time was helpful.
"Whatever your decision, God is with you. Pick the hospital and trust the Lord."
Fifteen minutes later, a surgeon called the officer's work phone and shared his review of the case. Both had the child on their minds and covenanted to invest the time and effort healing would require. Another road trip, late arrival and hospital check in later, the bleary parents were asking last minute questions.
"Doctor, are you a Christian?"
"That's an odd question in preparation for surgery, but yes, I am a Christian." The next morning, their son was prepped for 8-12 hour surgery and kissed goodbye. Each hour, nurses came to update the family but in the fourth hour, the surgeon came instead of the nurses.
Mom and dad were convinced their son was dead.
"Did he die peacefully?"
"He's alive and you'll be able to see him in an hour. We had to undo the previous surgeries work. I cannot explain how but it was more than my hands working on your son’s heart."
His parents went to visit him but had to negotiate the line of hospital workers standing in the hallway. They were waiting to see the miraculous patient for themselves. In the room, fully awake he had enough strength to lift himself up and reach for his parents.
He was discharged twenty years ago and has since competed as a student-athlete in multiple sports. Annual cardiology visits have been uneventful. His father attributes exchange with a police chaplain as a pivotal moment in his family's path toward healing.
Meeting a chaplain from Michigan sparked the thirty year law enforcement professional's tearful and rarely shared testimony. When we suggested that his story would help people, he gave permission for publication.