Not Alone When Our Faith Was Tested
Vicky was a lovely baby girl—healthy, cute, and full of life. Yes, when she was born in the spring of 1993, our happiness knew no bounds. We lived in a small town in the south of Sweden, and life was wonderful.
WHEN Vicky was one and a half years old, however, our world seemed to fall apart. She had not been well for some time, so we took her to a hospital. We will never forget the moment when the doctor told us that our daughter was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of childhood cancer that affects the white blood cells.
It was hard to grasp that our little girl was stricken with this formidable malady. She had just started to become aware of the world around her, and now she could die. Trying to comfort us, the doctor said that a fairly successful treatment could be administered, involving chemotherapy along with several blood transfusions. This was our next shock.
Our Faith Is Tested
We certainly loved our daughter and wanted the best medical care for her. Still, blood transfusions were entirely out of the question. We firmly believe God’s Word, the Bible, which clearly states that Christians must ‘abstain from blood.’ (Acts 15:28, 29) We also knew that blood transfusions are themselves risky. Thousands have contracted diseases and have died from transfusions. The only alternative was high-quality treatment that did not involve blood transfusions. In this respect, our fight for the faith now began.
What could we do? We contacted Hospital Information Services at the Sweden branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses to ask for help. * Immediately, faxes were sent to different hospitals around Europe in our search for a hospital and a doctor willing to administer chemotherapy without using blood transfusions. The zeal and love shown by our Christian brothers in their efforts to help us were very strengthening. We were not left alone in our fight for the faith.
Within hours, a hospital and a doctor were found in Homburg/Saar, Germany. Arrangements were made for us to fly there the next day to have Vicky examined. When we arrived, our Christian brothers from the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Homburg, as well as some of our relatives, were there to receive us. And a representative of the local Hospital Liaison Committee warmly welcomed us. He accompanied us to the hospital and gave us all the support possible. We felt comforted to see that even in a foreign country, we had spiritual brothers standing by our side.
When we met Dr. Graf at the hospital, we were again comforted. He was very understanding and assured us that he would do everything possible to treat Vicky without blood transfusions. Even if her hemoglobin level should drop to 5 g/dl, he would be willing to continue the treatment without blood transfusions. He also said that the early diagnosis and quick action taken to get Vicky there gave her a good chance for successful treatment. He admitted that this would be the first time he would administer chemotherapy without the use of blood transfusions in a case like Vicky’s. We were very thankful and admired Dr. Graf’s courage and determination to assist.
Now the question was, How were we to pay for Vicky’s treatments? We were stunned when we were informed that two years of treatments would cost about 150,000 deutsche marks. We did not have anywhere near that much money, and yet it was imperative to start Vicky’s treatments at once. Having left Sweden for treatments in Germany, we were not entitled to any public health insurance. So there we were with our very sick little girl and medical expertise ready to help, but we did not have enough money.
The hospital came to our rescue and told us that the treatments would start immediately if we made a down payment of 20,000 marks and signed a guarantee for the rest. We had some savings, and with loving help from friends and relatives, we were able to pay the 20,000 marks—but what about the rest?
Once again we were reminded that we were not alone in our fight for the faith. A spiritual brother, then unknown to us, was willing to assume responsibility for the balance. We did not need to use his generous offer, however, as we were able to make other arrangements.
Medical Expertise at Work
The chemotherapy started. Days and weeks passed. At times, it was very difficult and strenuous both for our little daughter and for us. On the other hand, we were extremely happy and thankful every time she showed signs of improvement. The chemotherapy lasted for eight months. The lowest hemoglobin level Vicky had was 6 g/dl, and Dr. Graf kept his promise.
Over six years have passed, and a final checkup of her spinal fluid shows no traces of leukemia. She is now a happy girl without any signs of the malady. Yes, it seems like a miracle that Vicky has recovered so completely. We are aware that many children with this same disease die despite receiving chemotherapy and blood transfusions.
Our fight for the faith has been victorious, but not without help from our relatives, Christian brothers and sisters, and medical experts. Hospital Information Services gave us full support 24 hours a day. Dr. Graf and his colleagues applied their skills to help Vicky recover. For all of this, we are truly thankful.
Our Faith Has Been Strengthened
Most of all, though, we thank our God, Jehovah, for his loving care and the strength we received through his Word, the Bible. When looking back, we realize how much we have learned and how strengthening to our faith this tough experience in life has been.
Now our heartfelt desire is to maintain our close relationship with Jehovah God and to teach our daughter the value of living a life in harmony with his requirements. Yes, we want to give her a good spiritual heritage of everlasting life in the coming Paradise here on earth.—Contributed.
^ par. 7 Hospital Information Services supervises an international network of Hospital Liaison Committees. These, in turn, are made up of Christian volunteers who are trained to encourage cooperation between physicians and their Witness patients. There are more than 1,400 Hospital Liaison Committees assisting patients in over 200 lands.