Aug 27, 2023 | by The Fellowship
How we anticipated a special weekend recently when some elderly close friends invited our young family to join them on their live-aboard boat docked in Mississippi. On Saturday night while we all went out to dinner, it began raining and the dock got wet. We walked to the boat from the parking lot like we always do. Our host, Harry, 80, was a few steps behind the rest of us. Once aboard, Harry’s wife and I started getting my kids, 8 and 4, settled in for the night and she turned on a TV show for them.
Harry had observed something that he decided needed attention on the dock and asked my husband to help him. After slipping on his flip flops, my husband walked back onto the wooden dock. Suddenly, we heard his voice getting louder while calling Harry’s name and then yelling for a flashlight. My 8-year-old daughter and I scrambled to search for a flashlight even though we did not know what was going on. My husband was frantically looking for Harry who he knew could not be far away. The dock’s walkway has lowlights, but between the boats it was extremely dark. My husband is severely colorblind, which many would consider a disability, but it allows him to see silhouettes and movements at night better than most.
Suddenly my husband was yelling “Call 911” before a flashlight was even located. He had discovered Harry floating face down between two large boats. By lying on his stomach on the dock, my husband was able to grab the back of Harry’s rain jacket collar and lift his head and shoulders out of the water. That was as much as he could do solo, but it was enough to give unconscious Harry access to air.
My husband and I were frantically trying to figure out a way to get Harry out of the water. Just then a man walking along the dock saw the situation and jumped into the water. He was able to hold onto a piling and also support part of Harry’s weight to relieve some of the burden on my husband.
Still on the phone trying to get the rescuers to the right location, I spotted another couple walking along the dock and asked them to help. (We later learned the man was a former military respiratory specialist.) He took over for my husband who ran to get a rope from Harry’s boat.
My husband used the rope to make a harness and instructed the man in the water how to put it around Harry so that he could be hoisted up safely. At the time, in the only way he could think to describe it, my husband said: “We will lift him up like we do cows.” (As if everyone is from Texas and works with cattle … we chuckle about it now). By God’s hands and in answer to our prayers, Harry was still breathing.
Once Harry was lifted onto the dock, we realized that he was bleeding from the back of his head and neck. Shortly thereafter, the first emergency personnel arrived. (Waiting for them seemed like the longest 15 minutes of my life!)
Harry was transported to a local ER where it was determined he had a brain bleed and oxygen deprivation, which meant he needed to be transported to a level 1 trauma center. The closest was in New Orleans, but no beds were available. Through phone calls and God’s provisioning, suddenly the bed status changed. At 1 a.m. we received word that a bed was open, and Harry could be air-lifted to New Orleans. Once there, he was taken to Neurological ICU and put onto a ventilator.
To everyone’s surprise, the next afternoon Harry wrote “ice chips” on a notepad. After several ups and downs, by Wednesday Harry was off the ventilator, tubes were removed, and he was sitting in a chair with no signs of cognitive deficiency.
And as another pure miracle, his kidneys are functioning as well as they were before the accident. The doctors are thrilled given the level of trauma and intense strain the kidneys had to go through in ridding his body of all the foreign and unexpected fluid he took on. This kidney function has been a critical part of his ability to recover.
By the following Saturday – only one week later – Harry was released from the hospital.
He is continuing to recover at home and has since warded off identified bacteria in his blood. And now, three weeks from the event, he has regained his strength and returned to church!
This joyful outcome is the result of one miracle after another. Not the least was the fact that our two young children obeyed us and continued to watch the kids’ show on TV, never once leaving the boat to come out on the dock -- which would have distracted us and put them at risk!
We continue to pray for Harry’s complete recovery and for no negative psychological impact on any of us who took part in the rescue. Our Lord certainly showed Himself faithful to be “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). All glory and honor and praise to Him!
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”