The Words of the Wigton Family

Easter Miracle

Mary Ann Schaffer-Wigton
June, 2000

On April 23rd (Easter) while we were visiting our grandnieces in Portland, Oregon I discovered that my son, Russ, who was in the hospital in Portland for what we thought was pneumonia was going to pass on that night from a heart infection which had riddled his body and caused liver, lung, kidney and probably brain damage. They were not able to do emergency surgery on his heart because his liver wasn't functioning well enough and they couldn't do surgery on his liver because his heart was too weak.

Russ Pesterfield was born 6/5/65 and will be 35 in June of 2000. I was 18 when he was born, and I met the UC in 1975 when he was 10. Russ was raised by his father and stepmother. He has never married and has no children.

Russ was not responding to treatment, and was heavily sedated to keep him comfortable and safe. He was in a coma and the sedation kept him from pulling out the breathing tube, IV's and many other items attached to his body to keep him alive. They told us that he could hear us, but the sedation would cause amnesia. His father, Roy and I decided we would not take extreme measures to keep him alive unless there was hope that he could live a meaningful life, according to his own wishes. The DR's didn't expect him to last through the night. Many family members came in to say good-bye to him and the hospital Chaplain came in and anointed him with oil and gave him his last rites. Larry, my blessed husband, Roy (Russ's dad) and I prayed together over him and God pushed me to pray with all of the family members as they came in to say good-bye to him. Fortunately I had one of Father's books with me, "The Way of Unification in God's Providence" which I began to read to Russ for as long as I was allowed to stay at his bedside. The staff in the Intensive Care Unit didn't mind that I continuously read the book softly to him.

Russ didn't pass that night and remained the same (no better, but no worse) the next day. I contacted Catherine Ono, the state leader of the UC in Oregon and asked her to bring some Holy Wine and items needed to bury with him. She came right away and assisted me in praying and blessing him in preparation for his passing. I continued to read Father's words to Russ. He began to improve!

The next day, Tuesday (day 3) the Dr.'s said that if his liver improved enough they could to the much needed heart surgery. However they weren't sure how extensive the brain damage was. Every day I read Father's words to Russ as much as I possibly could and each day Russ improved slightly. On day 4 which was Wednesday the Dr.'s began to talk about doing surgery on Thursday saying they were amazed at his dramatic turnaround, and wanted to do some brain scans and testing to see how extensive the brain damage was. They needed to reduce the sedatives and we all tried to get him to respond to our requests to squeeze our hand, blink, or move a finger if he could. He didn't respond except to turn his head toward us when we called his name. We didn't know if he was responding intelligently or just to the sounds we made, and the brain scan showed some damage but they couldn't say how much. After all of the testing and everything and his liver's continued (though very slight) improvement they decided to do the heart surgery on that Thursday (day five). And I continued to read Father's words aloud to him and the hospital staff and prayed with family members and visitors. The hospital staff also joined in with our prayers on occasion.

By this time I had prepared some holy candy and blessed everyone who came close to me. (I hadn't gotten around to blessing many of the family members on his father's side yet so this was a good opportunity to do that.)

At 2pm on Thursday, day 5, Russ went into surgery. He still hadn't responded to us except to turn his head towards us when we spoke, and he couldn't control his arms, legs, or eyes. His father and I decided to go ahead with the surgery because we could see a spark of recognition in his eyes when we looked into them. The surgery took about six hours and all went well. They found a growth in his heart valve the size of a pecan, which cut off the flow of blood. (He suffered with this for quite some time, just thinking it was a bad cold, then pneumonia.) Russ also had a heart condition which he was born with which didn't help the situation. They had to put in two new heart valves.

Russ didn't wake up until Saturday evening, day seven. He was still quite sedated, but recognized his father. I was in Seattle that day to rest, planning to return to Portland on Sunday so I could help Russ through his recovery. On Sunday Russ was awake and recognized all of us, calling our names as we walked into his room and opening his arms to hug each of us. (He didn't remember anything after entering the hospital a week earlier, complaining that he couldn't breathe.) He spent a total of three days in intensive care then was transferred into a regular room where he stayed for almost two weeks. Russ had to have his left foot amputated due to loss of circulation there, but other than that he is fine. He is now home and receives daily IV's of antibiotics and is learning to get around in a wheel chair.

Russ is still quite weak, but improving by leaps and bounds and he is now beginning to realize the impact of what happened to him. Everyone has told him of the miracle that took place this Easter Season. He had suffered a stroke but the damage was minor, causing his left wrist to be weak, but will recover from that. And he will be able to walk when he gets his new foot, a prosthesis, which is "on order and will arrive in a few months", as Russ explained to our little three year old grandniece when she asked, "Where is your foot?"

All of the Dr.'s and nurses said repeatedly that his was a miracle recovery. I give credit where credit is due. And I thank God and all of those in the spirit and physical world who helped this Easter Miracle happen.

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