Recently, my dad shared a link on Facebook to a YouTube video regarding the 2011 Children’s Miracle Achievement Awards. This program sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals recognizes outstanding pediatric caregivers for their commitment to and impact upon children’s health. One of the recipients, Dr. Hisashi Nikaidoh, was Matthew’s primary cardiac surgeon until this past year.
Whenever someone receives this award, the program creates a video featuring the recipient and a family impacted by the person. The family in the video talked about their daughter’s surgery. They went in anticipating a five hour surgery; it ended up lasting 15 hours instead. When Dr. Nikaidoh greeted the family afterwards, his first words were to say, “I’m so sorry it took so long.” As the mom in the video said, “He had been in surgery for 15 hours. What a man of character to look at a family and to be so humble to say, ‘I’m sorry it took so long.'”
The summer after I graduated high school I did an internship at Children’s Medical Center. At one point in the internship, I had the opportunity to sit in on the Cardiac Grand Rounds as people from the various healthcare disciplines came together to round on children and work on coordinating their care. I didn’t notice Dr. Nikaidoh’s presence until near the end. In two years of nursing school and nearly two years of nursing, I have rarely known a surgeon to possess such an unassuming presence and humility of spirit. Experience has given me different expectations and has taught that the surgeon is almost always the first one noticed.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD (Proverbs 16:18-20, ESV).
After Matthew’s birth, every doctor gave us dire predictions on his chances of survival. Dr. Nikaidoh was no different. However, in one conversation after he explained the situation to him my dad said to him, “Dr. Nikaidoh, my wife and I are Christians… we don’t know if Matthew will live seven days, seven years, or 70 years, but we understand that we may have to let him go…” After the discussion ended, Dr. Nikaidoh got up and quietly walked to the door. He stopped on his way out, turned back to my dad, and said, “I Christian too.” Two weeks later, as my parents walked with Matthew’s medical team as they wheeled his bed down the hallway towards the OR for his first open-heart, Dr. Nikaidoh told my parents, “I go do best job, you go pray.”
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be heard. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:13-15, ESV).
Several years after this, my dad took the day off of work to take Matthew and I on a field trip to the Science Museum in Fair Park. While we waited to tour the museum, my dad struck up a conversation with a woman in the crowd. She had come with her 16-year-old granddaughter for the same reasons Dad brought us. While we waited she had noticed Matthew’s outward physical challenges. After a few questions about Matthew, she told my dad about her granddaughter’s own medical challenges. The girl had been born with a rare heart defect. She told Dad about how the girl’s cardiac surgeon at that point in time attended a bible study with his wife, but did not believe in Jesus. She spoke about how she and her family witnessed to him many times. Up until this moment, the grandmother only knew about Matthew’s visible medical problems; she knew nothing about his multiple, rare heart conditions. After dad asked the surgeon’s name, my dad had the privilege of sharing with this grandmother the news that not only did Matthew share the same cardiac surgeon, but that the seeds the woman and her family had planted more than 15 years before had taken root and, by the grace of God, bloomed into a faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
And I am sure of this, that He Who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5-6, ESV).
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor (John 4:35b-38, ESV).
I firmly believe that if Dr. Nikaidoh had not come to believe in Jesus and listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Matthew would not have been allowed to have the surgeries he so desperately needed to survive. The medical community viewed these surgeries as simply a cruel method to provide false hope to the parents of a child incapable of surviving. I believe that Dr. Nikaidoh did what he did because the Holy Spirit led him to do so and take the necessary leap of faith.
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God! Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10, ESV)!
For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as He hears it, He answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left (Isaiah 30:19-21, ESV).
In the interview for Children’s Miracle Achievement Awards, Dr. Nikaidoh spoke about a mission trip to Cuba. Dr. Nikaidoh served as a “seating specialist” where he helped to fix wheelchairs. Before he left for Cuba, a friend suggested he take knee pads with him, since he would spend a lot of time kneeling on the ground during his time in Cuba. He then spoke about a lesson he learned while kneeling down: “And then I learn when you get down on the knees, that is a servant position. And in whatever you do, that you are on the same level as a person sitting on the wheelchair. That position is extremely important. And that we should start wearing knee pads in our heart.”
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:12-17, ESV).
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:3-11, ESV).
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor (Proverbs 15:32, ESV).
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life (Proverbs 22:4, ESV).
As Dr. Nikaidoh said, we should all take to wearing knee pads in our hearts. I have learned in my practice as a Registered Nurse the effect pride and humility in the caregiver have upon the ultimate outcome of a patient. Pride can blind the caregiver from recognizing subtle changes until too late to prevent permanent injury or even death. Likewise, humility opens the eyes and ears to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and so early warning signs can be caught and acted upon. I pray every time I walk into work that God will give me knee pads in my heart, so that I might glorify Him as well as provide the best care for my patients. May we all learn to wear knee pads in our hearts every day and everywhere we go and in everything we do to the glory of Christ Jesus.