By all accounts, baby Miguel looked to be a hopeless case. Nine days old and septic (from pneumonia), his parents had walked some five hours down the from the mountain community of Nueva Esperanza to bring their child in to Hospital Loma de Luz. Missionary Pediatrician Dr. Sharon Yount told us that this was one of the sickest babies that she had ever seen and prepared the family for the worst almost from the outset. Being believers in Christ, these simple mountain parents seemed able to put their trust in Christ (the concept of a person or a situation being “in God’s Hands” is an important one here and a phrase that is often used in conversation and in prayer). By yet another miracle of God’s timing, there were several visiting North American nurses here that were able to fashion out a sort of rural infant ICU for Baby Miguel. Because I’d had experience as an EMT in the past and due to our desperate need for help in caring for Baby Miguel, I was allowed to help a bit with his medical care. His condition seemed to go from grave to far worse…. with intense difficulty breathing and “gurgling” breath sounds, it really only seemed a matter of time before Miguel would go on to be with the Lord. At one point, his breathing was so labored that the decision was made to intubate him. For those of you with any medical experience, you must be saying – “why hadn’t you done that earlier?” Well, you see – we do not have a respirator here at Hospital Loma de Luz and so the decision to intubate comes with it the awesome responsibility of “breathing” for the baby by bag valve mask – every breath – around 80 times per minute, every minute of every hour of every day until he gets better or until God takes him home. And so the very weighty decision was made and a small team of nurses and doctors “bagged” baby Miguel for a period of over two days as we watched for any sign of improvement.
One thing that can definitely be said for Baby Miguel is that he is a fighter. In fact, he seemed to fight the tube that had been placed in his lungs constantly. The nurses lovingly put mittens around his hands and tried to constrain his flailing arms so that he wouldn’t pull out any of the many tubes that were coming from his poor little body. Unfortunately, through his efforts, he was able to extubate himself (remove the breathing tube) and the decision was made at that time to “put him in God’s hands” and pray that God would heal him. It seemed that we had done all that we could with our limited resources. He was placed into his parent’s arms with the hope of a miracle, but with the grim realization that he would most likely die. But he didn’t die. In his father’s arms, he started to get better. In fact he got so much better that Dr. Sharon began to try and formulate a new treatment plan based on the reality of the seeming miraculous turn around. She began to talk about the possibility of transporting the child to a facility with a respirator – an easy task in the States – but almost impossible here. As the days progressed after this miraculous turn around, Miguel started going downhill again. Eventually, Miguel had to be intubated again and we had to reinstate the round the clock breathing program. This time, everyone involved was so tired that we began to feel like we were running out of options.
It was my privilege to watch caring Christian doctors with some pretty strong differences of opinion in how they should proceed with treatment – whether or not to transfer, for example – talk through their options. One of the things that they talked about during this time was that Baby Miguel was more than a little body, he was also a soul. Although his body seemed very insecure indeed, we knew that his soul was secure in “God’s hands”. They agreed that sending these simple mountain folk into one of the biggest cities in Honduras to try and fend for themselves and their baby in the midst of a very complicated Honduran medical system would have been difficult at best and probably only lead to the death of their child in an unfamiliar place very far from home with no resources to get back home and care for the rest of their family. Hence, the very difficult decision was made to, once again, put Baby Miguel in “God’s hands” and pray for a miracle. I am told that the doctors met to consider, one last time, transporting Baby Miguel and started to pray for wisdom and for a clear indication from God as to which way to go. At almost that exact same moment Baby Miguel stopped breathing. Wow, it seemed that God’s will at that time was to take Baby Miguel home to be with Himself. Miguel was revived and did continue to breathe, albeit very very poorly. Dr. Sharon met with the parents and all agreed that it seemed time to discontinue our life saving efforts and allow God’s will to be done. I happened to be the one that was “breathing” for Baby Miguel using a bag valve mask when this decision was made. I took the little body (and soul) and placed them, for the second time now, into the father’s arms. I prayed with him at that moment that God’s will be done. We “put Him in God’s hands” for about the one thousandth time in prayer to the Father and began to watch the pulse oximeter to indicate what seemed to be the conclusion of this beautiful baby’s time here on earth with us.
As we prayed, and watched, Baby Miguel didn’t die, in fact he slowly got a little bit better……. and then he slowly got yet a little bit better. His oxygen saturations went up without an ET tube and once we stopped breathing for him, an obvious contradiction – and an obvious miracle. Instead of taking Baby Miguel home to be with Himself, God seemed to want to show us Himself through this process. He seemed to want to remind us that we are all “in His hands” at every moment of every day and that even with the combined wisdom of some very wise doctors and nurses, His wisdom is supreme. We watched in awe as Baby Miguel seemed to stabilize a bit. As there were many care givers around, I decided to walk away for a bit and try and clear my head and get some fresh air. I came back maybe thirty minutes later and Baby Miguel was nursing! His mother had lovingly put him to breast, trying to squeeze one more moment of intimacy out of this miracle before her baby died and he responded by nursing. Thus began Baby Miguel’s recovery. I stand here now, several weeks later, still shaking my head at what we witnessed and still in awe of the God ‘s providence throughout the whole situation.
Baby Miguel’s soul is still with his body, as far as we know, and he and his parents left the hospital some two weeks later and began the long walk back up to their mountain village. Several of the nurses have made a pact to return one year from now and go visit Miguel at his home and celebrate his birthday with him. While I don’t know if that will actually come to pass and I don’t know how Miguel is doing today, I do know this: Baby Miguel is in God’s hands. All of our prayers didn’t place him any more in God’s hands than he already was, we were simply acknowledging the reality that we could observe about how much this was in fact true. I know something else now more clearly than ever. I too am in God’s hands and so are you. We live and breathe only by His grace and He can show himself miraculously at any time. Are we living each day in the reality of being in His hands, or do we deny this simple truth by our words, or deeds? My prayer today is that you and I would live in the simple truth that we are in God’s hands. Thank you Lord for miraculously saving Baby Miguel and thank you for the privilege of being present as it happened. Amen.
Note, here are a few more places that you can read about baby Miguel: