How God Made My Confirmed Heart Disease Disappear
This story is about David Sanford, who was preparing to have surgery when new tests revealed that his life-threatening heart disease had mysteriously disappeared.
The following statistics are from a 2017 report compiled by government organizations and the American Heart Association:
- Heart disease (including coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke) is the leading cause of death in the United States.
- Coronary heart disease accounts for one in seven deaths in the United States, killing more than 360,000 people each year.
- About 790,000 people in the United States have heart attacks each year, and about 114,000 of them will die.
- The estimated annual incidence of heart attack in the United States is 580,000 new attacks and 210,000 recurrent attacks. Average age at the first heart attack is 65.3 years for males and 71.8 years for females.
- Approximately every forty seconds, an American will have a heart attack.
David is a publishing consultant I have worked with. His clients have published more than five hundred books. In 2017, he published his newest book, Loving Your Neighbor: Surprise! It’s Not What You Think.
In 2015, David was diagnosed with heart damage, but it mysteriously disappeared after hundreds of family members and friends — and one particularly bold prayer warrior — prayed on his behalf.
Here is David’s story.
I don’t know if you have personally experienced a miraculous healing, but I have. I was fifty-six years old, and every Friday afternoon that autumn, I worked out with a trainer. Like many personal trainers, Vileka Fisher started each session by checking my weight and blood pressure. Some variations are normal. My blood pressure, however, climbed for seven weeks straight, topping out at 203/143. At that point, she fired me. Literally.
“I’m not going to have you die on me,” Vileka told me. “You have to go to your doctor immediately.” In turn, Dr. Guesly Dessieux quickly ordered two sets of tests. The next day, they took extensive, continuous images of my heart at rest. The following day, they took extensive, continuous images of my heart after a lengthy and very fast-paced run on an industrial-sized treadmill.
The Dreaded Post-Exam Phone Call
On Friday, October 23, 2015, I received the proverbial day-after phone call. On Tuesday, October 27, I met with my “new best friend,” interventional cardiologist Dr. Barath Krishnamurthy, to find out how extensively my heart was damaged and what next steps were ahead for both of us. The damage to the front middle and front lower-right areas of my heart, he said, was significantly worse than expected for a man my age.
Dr. Krishnamurthy scheduled me to report to Salem Hospital as soon as possible. He said he would start with an angiogram. If the damage wasn’t too severe, he planned to insert stents. Then again, if the damage was severe, he planned to perform double bypass surgery.
“When would you do that bypass surgery?” I asked, feeling more anxious and nervous than I’d felt in a long time.
“Right then and there,” he replied. “There’s no time to waste. You could have a heart attack any day.”
That last comment wasn’t reassuring, but he had my attention!
Afterward, I remembered how good it is that we can thank God daily for His sovereignty (greatness), providence (goodness and guidance), holiness (glory), love (graciousness), and mystery (“God alone knows”).
Most of the time during those next few days, I was prayerful and at peace. Then again, I couldn’t forget Dr. Krishnamurthy’s comments that recovery from an angiogram and stents would take a few days. Recovery from double bypass surgery, though, could take six to eight weeks, maybe longer.
By phone, Facebook, and e-mail, my wife (Renée) and I asked those close to us to pray for a routine, boring, and ultimately successful angiogram.
A couple of hours after checking into Salem Hospital on November 5, 2015, I was wheeled into surgery. According to plan, I lost consciousness shortly after meeting the five members of my cardiologist’s team.
Miraculous News Came after Surgery
When I woke up in recovery, my cardiologist walked in looking stunned. “This never happens,” he said. “You heart looks great. I couldn’t find any damage anywhere. Not even plaque.” It rarely happens, he explained, that two separate days of radioactive imaging would clearly, and yet incorrectly, show substantive damage in two separate areas of the heart.
Bottom line: no damage, no stents, and no double bypass surgery.
Renée was quick to call it a miracle. When I confided that I wasn’t ready to use that word, she asked why. “Well, I had just woken up in recovery. What if I misunderstood what Dr. Krishnamurthy told me?”
On November 25, I returned to Salem Cardiovascular to meet with my cardiologist. He had been called away for an emergency heart procedure and asked one of his associates, Masen Martin, to meet with me. I explained the purpose of my visit. Then I told Masen (as she prefers to be called) that when Dr. Krishnamurthy talked with me in recovery, he looked pretty much stunned.
“Stunned?” she exclaimed. “You were the surprise of the year!”
She paused and then went on. “Frankly, it left all of us here pretty rattled. The imaging is proof positive that you needed either stents or double bypass surgery. But the angiogram imaging a few days later is proof positive that your heart has absolutely no damage anywhere. Not even a trace of plaque anywhere in or around your heart.” I had the heart of a teenager again. Medically and scientifically, that’s not supposed to be possible.
In other words, Renée was right. It truly was a miracle. Then again, it was a miracle that caught me by surprise. Yes, hundreds prayed, but not for this outcome.
Louise the Prayer Warrior and Her God-Sized Prayers
That next Sunday, November 29, a super quiet, very introverted, yet lovely older friend of mine named Louise came up to me before church. I was talking with the oldest member of our congregation when Louise walked up, smiling from ear to ear. Radiating pure joy, she said, “It was me!” I didn’t know what she meant, so I didn’t say a word.
Louise told me, “I was the one who prayed for your complete heart healing. I even asked God to prove it was a miracle because they couldn’t find even one speck of plaque anywhere in your heart.”
I felt like jumping up and giving Louise a big hug, but I simply said, “Thank you! Thank you so much!” with a huge smile on my face.
Later that day, though, I wrestled with two tough and troubling questions: Why could Louise pray that God-sized prayer and fully expect Him to answer? And why didn’t I pray for my own heart healing?
My prayer of faith that afternoon has been life-changing: “Lord, please help me to pray like Louise. It’s scary, and I don’t know why that is, but I want to learn how to pray God-sized prayers like her.”
After this experience, God’s grace became much more real and powerful to me. I was and am deeply grateful to God and my dear friend, Louise. Since then, I have been empowered by God and determined to positively impact other lives by sharing my experience and encouraging others to pray more boldly. I tell this story wherever I’m invited to speak. I also take time to pray for and keep in touch with audience members who request prayer for healing.
Yes, sometimes I’m nervous. Sometimes I wonder, “Who am I to pray in this way for this person’s healing?” Then I remember Louise and seek to pray a God-sized prayer the way she would. I then stay in touch to find out what God does. The results have been amazing! There is no question in my mind that we can stand on God’s promises and expect miracles.
David found great comfort in the following Bible verses during his time of uncertainty and worry about his health.
Fred’s Take on David’s Story
David’s story is a striking example of the power of prayer. His friend from church, Louise, told him after his recovery, “I asked God to prove it was a miracle because they couldn’t find even one speck of plaque anywhere in your heart.” And that is exactly what happened. Louise’s prayer was so bold and specific that it even surpassed what David and his wife had prayed for.
James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” And 1 John 5:14–15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” We need to pray boldly and confidently.
David’s experience teaches us to claim that promise from the Bible in our own crises and to pray with confidence that our prayers will be answered, not just hoping they will be answered. It also teaches us to pray for miracles to happen in other people’s lives.
Time for Personal Reflection
Have you experienced what seemed like miraculous healing that made sense to no one, even medical professionals? To what extent have you acknowledged that God was the Master Healer in that situation?
To what extent do you pray “God-sized prayers” as Louise did? In other words, how strong is your faith, and to what extent are you certain that God will answer your prayers if you pray for the best outcome possible, both for yourself and others?