A Miracle of the Heart

Doug* was a frequent patient in the emergency department at Tillamook County General Hospital. On one particular day, he was blue, gasping for breath and his eyes were sunken.

To Larry Hamilton, registered nurse and director of the emergency department, it appeared the end was near for Doug. As requested by the attending physician and internist, Hamilton was preparing to administer morphine to ensure Doug was comfortable.

"As I was leaving to go and retrieve the medication, Doug reached out and grabbed my arm," Hamilton recalls. "He had panic in his eyes. His breathing was so labored he could hardly speak. Mustering all his remaining strength, he gasped, ‘Please, please.' I looked into his terrified eyes and simply said, ‘Doug, heaven is not a bad place.'"

His grip tightened, and between gasps, he replied, "I am not ready!"

Hamilton stood for a moment looking at Doug. Then, glancing toward the ceiling, he simply said, "God, You hear this man's prayer," and turned to get the morphine.

The day was busy and there were many patients in the emergency department. As Hamilton passed another bed on his way to get Doug's medication, the nurse caring for that patient grabbed him. The patient had developed a lethal heart rhythm and needed immediate intervention. Modern medicine did its work, and in about 20 minutes the patient was out of danger.

Soon, it dawned on Hamilton he had left Doug in distress and had done nothing to relieve his pain or suffering. He ran to the medication room and retrieved Doug's morphine. Slipping back into the man's curtain, Hamilton was shocked when he saw Doug sitting there with a big smile on his face.

"Hello, Larry!" he said. "I feel great."

All Hamilton could do was gasp. "Doug, did someone give you a treatment?" he asked.

"No," Doug replied. "You said something just before you left, and I suddenly felt better."

He took a deep breath to demonstrate his new ability to breathe. A chill ran down Hamilton's back as it dawned on him that a miracle had just taken place.

Hamilton wanted to visit Doug and share Jesus with him, but circumstances just never seemed right. However, during one of Doug's later hospital stays, a Faith in Action community volunteer did have that opportunity, and Doug gave his heart to God.

Doug did not have his health restored, but it became obvious his heart was healed. Just before he died, Doug was being transferred to a care center via ambulance and Hamilton overheard him telling his story to a young paramedic who had not yet met Jesus.

* Names have been changed to protect patient privacy.

October 01, 2009 / Feature