“I want to sleep, please give me medicine to sleep!”. That sentence is pretty startling, especially when it is followed by the plea, ”Please don’t cut off my leg, I want to keep my leg!”. What makes those words truly heartbreaking is that they were spoken to me by a sobbing 11 year old boy named Marvin. I tried to reassure Marvin that I had no intention of cutting off his leg and that we would do what we could to help him. My words did not do much to calm this frightened little boy. Looking at his x-rays and the mangled infected carnage that use to be his lower leg, I could find no hope of saving his leg. The damage had already been done and he was past the point of no return.
The x-rays he brought told a story that his parents had not understood even though they had spent about 2 months at the bedside of their son in another hospital. The initial x-rays showed a displaced fracture of his lower leg that resulted from a bike accident. The other hospital had attempted a surgical repair of his leg but he developed an infection of the surgical site which was unable to be controlled. At some point the decision was made by the surgeon at the other hospital to remove almost all of his tibia (the main bone in the lower leg), in effect leaving him without a leg to stand on. In desperation, Marvin’s parents brought him to our hospital.
Our surgeon, Dr. McKenney, told the parents that if there was anything he could do to avoid an amputation he would but from all indications, amputation was the only treatment option short of a miracle. So that same day in the midst of an already packed operating room schedule Marvin was brought back as we prayed for guidance on how to best care for him and hoping for signs of a miracle. Yet in the operating room all we found was dead tissue and a non functioning leg. The decision was made to clean and remove as much of the dead and infected tissue as possible and apply a cast so that we could give this 11 year old boy at least a few more days with what was left of his leg as was his wish before surgery. A few days later, after Marvin and his parents had more time to process the situation, he underwent a below the knee amputation.
To say that Marvin was defeated is an understatement. His affect was fearful, downcast and sullen. I dare say that it was probably the same attitude the disciples had after Jesus had died and in the following days before his resurrection; without hope. Yet God in his infinite wisdom brought this little boy to our hospital at a time when we were trying to get a prosthetics lab up and running after it had been stalled for many years. This little boy became my motivation to take on the task of helping to get the lab up and running along with Dave Fields (long term missionary here) and James Redhead (prosthetist). Though there were many challenges, God remained faithful and this week Marvin was able to walk again, about 10 months after his accident, with one of the first custom prosthesis that was made entirely at our hospital.
I can not adequately describe the joy that I saw in Marvin this past week but I think it is best demonstrated by the fact that within 5 minutes of learning to walk with his prosthesis he was out walking up and down stairs and wanting to know when he could start running! Marvin’s story reminds me of the gospel in that we were broken, separated from God and without hope of being repaired or reconciled. But God in his great love, through his sons sacrifice, gave us a new birth into a living hope. Even more amazing is that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that even NOW we can live into the new creation which will one day be fully revealed. I saw a glimpse of heaven this past week with the restoration of a broken limb and I know that it is only a shadow of the ultimate restoration that will take place for all those who believe and trust in the God who is able to make all things new. To God be the glory!