Dorothea Drewitz
Dorothea Drewitz

Multi-organ failure - God heard our prayer

My husband was chronically ill for 37 years. He suffered from Crohn's disease - this is a chronic inflammation of the intestines, a disease that has episodes of relapse. During the course of his illness, he has undergone a total of 30 operations. During the first and second operations, he was infected with hepatitis C through one of the many blood transfusions that he recieved. In 2006, he had a severe hepatitis flare-up. In mid-January 2007, he was diagnosed by the Homburg University Hospital: End-stage liver cirrhosis. After the initial shock of this devastating diagnosis, it was clear to me: "God is the only hope now, nothing is impossible for Him." Faith in the effect of the sacraments and prayer strengthened me to live every day with confidence in God's help. Many other people whom I knew also began to pray for my husband. They accompanied us throughout my husband's suffering with their prayers, which gave us the strength to persevere.

From the medical side it was determined that my husband could only be saved by a liver transplant. However, he could only be put on the transplant waiting list if there was no inflammation or infection in his body. To do this, the colon would have to be completely removed, as the entire abdominal cavity was full of fistulas. On 28 February 2007, my husband finally had his colon removed and was given a stoma. It was a very difficult operation with high blood loss. My husband was put into an artificial coma and had to be ventilated. His liver function got worse and worse, and his kidney function got worse every day. In addition, he was diagnosed with MRSA - a multi-resistant germ - which even in healthy people has difficulty responding to antibiotic therapy. At my request, the hospital priest anointed him. Finally, on 7 March 2007, he suffered complete liver and kidney failure. The doctors gently prepared me for the fact that my husband would not survive. With the MRSA germ, no transplant could be performed either. Even without the germ, a liver transplant in his condition would be extremely risky, the chance of survival minimal and the overall healing success unlikely. Moreover, a good organ, which he would need, would not be available any time soon.

In this desperate situation, I appealed to heaven and asked God for help. My friends also prayed intensely for my husband and me.

Two days after this depressing conversation with the doctor, I came to the intensive care unit on 9 March in the morning and found the doctors and nursing staff in a frenzy. One doctor just called out to me, "The germ is gone, the germ is gone!" The MRSA germ had disappeared. This was completely inexplicable to the doctors given my husband's desolate state of health. "We now recommend your husband for organ donation with the highest level of urgency. However, he needs a good organ in two days at the latest, otherwise he cannot be saved. Unfortunately, getting an organ that quickly is very unlikely."

Nevertheless, my husband received a liver transplant on Sunday 11 March. However, his condition did not improve. His heart and circulation were very weak, he needed strong drugs to maintain his circulation. His kidney was no longer working, he was constantly connected to a dialysis machine and also had to be artificially ventilated. He still had to be kept in an artificial coma. From a medical point of view, there was no hope that his condition could ever improve and stabilise. This uncertainty about how things would continue was the worst thing for me, although I always had the feeling that God would help us.

In this hopelessness, when the doctors made the suggestion to switch off the ventilator and dialysis machine, I refused, taking the view, "Let's wait and see, there is so much prayer, nothing is impossible for God."

On 16 March 2007, a friend brought Holy Communion to my husband in the ICU. As he was in a coma and could not receive it, we placed it on his body and prayed fervently for him to be healed.

When I came to the ICU the next day, my husband was no longer connected to the dialysis machine. Surprised, I said to the senior doctor, "The dialysis machine is gone." She then told me, still surprised herself, that his kidney had surprisingly started working again. His circulation had also improved so much that the circulatory medication could already be reduced by 2/3. His breathing had also improved a lot. As a result it would be possible to take him off the ventilator today and let him slowly wake up from the coma.

I was speechless! Just recently the doctors had expected him to die. We had brought Jesus to him in the Eucharist the day before and prayed for him and now, the next day, his organs had begun to function again. It was incredible, God had answered our prayers.

My husband was in the university hospital for a total of 1 year. He also had other operations and was finally discharged home after rehab.  His muscles had deteriorated so much that he had to learn to walk again and it took him another year to recover from this extreme strain. We then had a few more good years together. In total, he lived another 12 years after the major intestinal surgery and liver transplant and he always enjoyed living - despite his limitations. On 1 March 2019 - a Friday of the Sacred Heart - God called him to himself.