A Tale Of An ECMO Miracle by Gary Grist RN CCP Emeritus
I think I have seen several genuine miracles during my career. The one that affected me most involved a post-op heart surgery neonate who ended up on ECMO in the OR. After several days on ECMO the baby’s condition appeared grim. I did not believe there was any way he could survive. I was on the night shift with a bedside ICU nurse. The child’s parents were leaving to go home for a much needed rest. Just before leaving they started a CD player to play some lullabies for the baby to hear. Somehow the player got stuck on “Jesus Loves Me” just after the parents left and there it stayed for the rest of the night. Hour after hour, the bedside nurse and I listened to “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so…” Finally I asked the bedside nurse if we should turn the CD player off. “Not me! You do it!” she said. I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off either. What if the father had intentionally left it playing as a sort of overnight prayer?
When the parents came in the next morning, the father heard the player still running and repeating “Jesus loves me…” over and over. He said with some shock… “You guys didn’t listen to that all night did you? Why didn’t you turn it off?” I explained that we thought he might have left the player on intentionally as a prayer and did not want to spoil his intention. He said it was not intentional and thought the player must be broken. So he turned it off.
Now here is the miracle part. Later that day after several days on desperate ECMO, the child improved so rapidly that we took him off ECMO that evening and he eventually went home alive. Can a prayer come from a recording on a machine? Was it compassion not to turn the player off? Was it compassion to keep the child on ECMO when all hope seemed gone? Or did the compassion come from God in the form of a miracle? I don’t know. You tell me.