At age eight, Mark* was dying from a congenital heart disorder. A battery of diagnostic tests revealed that the malformation of his heart was irreparable. Mark’s doctors informed his parents that nothing short of a heart transplant would save his life. Worse, Mark didn’t have much time to live. A proper organ donor had to be found, and fast.
Meanwhile, at the same hospital where Mark awaited a heart transplant, medics rushed another young boy, Alex*, into the emergency ward. Alex had been involved in a severe auto accident which compromised most of his vital organs. Without the aid of life support, Alex would die. For several days his doctors monitored his bleak condition. Failing to see any signs of improvement, the doctors determined too much damage had been done.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, the doctors informed his parents that Alex was never going to come back. He was too far gone. They also explained that if Alex’s parents would be willing to donate their son’s heart, a little boy down the hall would live–if the transplant could be made in time. Alex’s heart was a perfect match for Mark. They left the decision to his parents, and then gave them time to consider the option.
After some intense deliberation, the family called for the doctor. They informed him they’d authorize the transfer of Alex’s heart to Mark–on one condition: they wanted to meet Mark just one time before he left the hospital. The doctors explained the terms to Mark’s parents who, in turn, gladly consented.
After the successful transplant, after Mark was resting comfortably in his room, Alex’s parents were ushered in to meet Mark’s parents. As you might expect, Mark’s parents where curious why they wanted to see their son. Alex’s dad explained that, with their permission, he and his wife just wanted to place their ears on Mark’s chest. They wanted to hear their son’s heart beating one last time.
This remarkable true story was shared by Sandy MacIntosh, wife of Mike MacIntosh, pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, California. (I came across Sandy’s story in a sermon by Pastor Joe Focht, pastor of Calvary Chapel, Philadelphia.)
I was struck by the fact that for Mark to live, Alex had to die. And even if Alex’s parents decided against the transplant, for Mark to live, someone would ultimately have to die. There are no living donors when it comes to hearts. That’s the way it is for you and for me. In order for us to live eternally, someone had to die. And the only perfect match for my heart is the heart of Jesus.
While I cannot prove it, I’m confident that Mark will live the rest of his life, daily grateful to the giver of his heart. After all, every step, every breath, every dream pursued, every goal accomplished, was made possible because he had a new heart given to him by another. You know, that’s how I want to live my life. I never want to lose sight of the fact that Jesus died so I can live.
His heart for mine. What a priceless gift. I’m forever thankful.
*Not his real name.