A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
A NEW HEART FOR TAYLOR
is a good kid.
No, I take that back. Taylor
is a really great kid.
He’s a good student. A loving son. A fun brother. A lively and devoted
active participant in his church congregation. A Boy Scout who is
“trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind . . .” and all that
other stuff. If you didn’t know
him better you’d be tempted to say he is a really great kid with a good heart.
But if you said that, you’d be wrong.
has a bad heart. His family knew that
from the day he was born some 13 years ago.
His heart was so poorly formed that doctors at that time didn’t give him
much hope of surviving more than a year or two.
So right from the very start, Taylor’s
family learned to embrace and cherish every day with him. The result has been a sweet, joyful family
that is very close and very appreciative of each other and of each moment
shared in their lives together.
While there have been some medical setbacks here
and there along the way, Taylor’s
13-plus years here on this planet have been nothing short of miraculous. He has been able to live a fairly normal life
up until this point, and for that his family is profoundly grateful.
But today they’re praying for one more miracle.
bad heart is failing. He’s been in the
hospital for almost a week now, and his doctors intend to keep him there until
a new heart can be found. His parents
have been at his bedside constantly, offering comfort and reassurance and
answering his questions – including some questions no parent ever wants to have
to consider seriously (“Dad, I don’t remember Grandpa Hyer’s
voice. If I die, and he meets me in
heaven and talks to me, how will I know that it’s him?”). The rest of us have been praying – for Taylor
and for his parents.
For those of us who know and love Taylor,
the prospect of a heart transplant is both thrilling and frightening. It is thrilling to think that medical
technology has progressed to the point that this life-changing surgery is
almost commonplace – even for one as young as Taylor. And it is thrilling to think of what a new,
healthy heart could mean to this wonderful young man. But it is frightening because . . . well,
it’s a heart transplant. Enough said.
The first time I tried to pray about this
transplant, I had every intention of instructing God about how important this
was for Taylor and how it needed to happen immediately (as if He wouldn’t
already know about such things). But as
I knelt there, I found myself considering the implications of what I was
saying. A new heart for Taylor
won’t really be a “new” heart, will it?
I mean, it’s not like they can go to the supply room and pull out a
perfect, never-been-used heart for a 13-year-old. Taylor’s “new” heart will actually be a used
heart, which means that right now someone else is using the heart that will eventually
be given to Taylor.
The “hows” and “whys” of
that exchange are sort of mind-boggling, from a philosophical point of
view. The joy that Taylor’s
family will feel at receiving a “new” heart will be countered by the sorrow
another family will feel when that same heart stops beating within someone they
love and cherish. Will it be someone who
has been terminally ill, for whom death will come as a welcomed relief? Or will it be someone who has died suddenly,
tragically, unexpectedly? The options
are troubling, to say the least.
And so I’m praying for Taylor
and for his family. But
I ‘m also praying for the person who is now using Taylor’s “new”
heart, and for that person’s family.
We can’t take away the sadness they are about to experience, but perhaps
we can make some sense of it when that heart miraculously brings new life to a
really great kid.
# # #
— © Joseph Walker
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Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.