One look at the doctor’s face revealed the gravity of the situation. “We have a very serious problem here. Your son’s right kidney has ruptured and he is bleeding internally. To be honest, it looks like someone took it out and stomped on it! What happened to him? Was he hit by a car?”
“No, no! Seth and three friends were tobogganing,” my husband Dick explained. “The three girls fell off on the way down the hill, but Seth rode it out. He hit a bump and landed with his elbow in his side.”
“I don’t understand a kidney injury this severe from a simple sledding accident,” the doctor admitted. “We’re going to have to bring in a urologist.”
We immediately called relatives, friends and our church family. We asked them to pray for Seth, knowing the network of prayer would be ever-widening. Beginning that moment, we experienced an unexplainable peace—the “peace that passes all understanding” that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:7.
As we waited for the urologist to arrive, Dick and I talked over the day’s events. Even at 20, Seth still loved to go sledding, and the snowstorms that had hit our area since he arrived home on leave from the Air Force had created perfect conditions for Seth and his friends to toboggan on a hill near the high school.
Around 5:30 that afternoon Seth’s friend Karen had rung the doorbell. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams. We wrecked the toboggan and Seth got hurt. He couldn’t walk by himself so we helped him to his car and I drove him home. Now he can’t get out of the car.”
Dick and I had gone out to the car to see what was wrong. Seth was holding his right side, his pale, drawn face confirming that he was in severe pain.
With snow falling furiously, we had thanked the three girls for taking care of Seth, and sent them home. We considered calling an ambulance but decided we could get him to the hospital faster by driving him ourselves.
Those two miles had seemed endless. Dick had strained to see through the snowy windshield, the wipers barely clearing the glass. At the hospital, slippery sidewalks had hindered the emergency room personnel as they transferred Seth from the car to a stretcher. The attending physician had ordered X-rays and a CAT scan. Half an hour later we had listened in disbelief as he explained the seriousness of the injury and the need to contact Dr. Lipson, the urologist.
When Dr. Lipson arrived he admitted Seth to the Intensive Care Unit. Once our son was as comfortable as possible, we were advised to go home and get some rest.
About 3:00 AM an ICU nurse called. “Seth’s blood pressure has dropped. Can you come over and sign for blood transfusions?”
We left immediately.
Dr. Lipson updated us on Seth’s situation. “There are two schools of thought on kidney injuries. One advises removing the kidney immediately; the other recognizes the kidney’s remarkable capability to heal itself and recommends giving it time. My associates and I feel waiting would be prudent.”
God assured us He had placed Seth in capable, caring hands. Dr. Lipson visited Seth two or three times a day and called every few hours for test results.
Seth’s health worsened rather than improved over the next week. Dr. Lipson decided to remove the damaged kidney. After the surgery he told us multiple cysts had formed on the kidney, a congenital defect. The minor sledding accident had simply ruptured an organ diseased from birth. “The good news is that Seth’s other kidney is perfectly healthy,” the doctor assured us. “It took over all renal function years ago.”
The Lord reached out to our family through the hands and words of the doctors and hospital staff, friends, family, and church members. Complete strangers stopped us and said, “You’re the parents of the 20-year-old in ICU, aren’t you? We want you to know that we’re keeping him in our prayers.”
Dick and I gulped our thanks and looked at each other in amazement.
Gradually Seth’s health improved. Dr. Lipson arranged with the Air Force authorities for Seth to convalesce at our home. After 18 days in the hospital, he was released—twenty pounds lighter and shaky as a newborn kitten.
We witnessed James 5:15 and 16b in action. Earnest prayers by many righteous people released great power and brought about wonderful results in ways above and beyond what we even knew Seth needed. During a post-operative checkup, Dr. Lipson gave Seth the thumbs-up and said, “You know, we thought we were going to lose you a couple of times.”
Dick and I exchanged astonished looks. That thought had never entered our minds. Instead, as our fellow believers had prayed, God’s peace had prevailed.