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Surgeon credits faith in miracle man’s survival

GALLATIN, Tenn. (BP)–After walking around for two and a half days with what turned out to be a leaking aorta, Kevin York believes it’s a miracle he’s alive.

It’s a miracle shared by hundreds of people who joined York’s family in prayer while he underwent hours of risky surgery to repair the aorta [the body’s main artery] and replace a deformed valve in his heart.

“Kevin was incredibly fortunate,” said Mark Tedder, the Saint Thomas Hospital cardiovascular surgeon who, in association with John Pirolo, performed York’s life-saving operation. “We don’t see about 80 to 90 percent of the people with this problem because they don’t live long enough to get here.”

York’s miraculous story began when the 38-year-old Gallatin, Tenn. man started to feel bad the day after Thanksgiving.

“I thought I had the flu,” he recalled.

The next day he put in a full day of work at his landscaping business even though he continued to feel worse with pain developing in his neck and jaw.

On Nov. 28, he dragged himself out of bed to attend church at College Heights Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon. On his way home following the morning worship service, York began to sweat profusely and almost blacked out as he pulled into his driveway.

After going to the emergency room at Sumner Regional Hospital, York was immediately airlifted to Saint Thomas. When cardiologist N.S. Babu performed an echocardiogram, he saw blood around the heart and called Tedder.

The physicians then explained the gravity of his condition to York and his family.

“I remember them telling us that my chance of survival was slim so I asked my close friend Steve McNeil to get my family and both doctors and have a prayer,” said York, the father of two children.

As he was prepared for surgery, “the thing I thought of the most was that my four-year-old daughter wouldn’t remember me if I didn’t make it,” York recalled.

During the long hours of waiting, York’s wife, Angela, said the waiting room filled up with more than 75 of their church friends.

“It was just amazing, so we started writing down the names of those who came by or called so we could share them with Kevin later,” she said. “The room was just full of support.”

At three o’clock the next morning when the successful surgery was finally completed, 54 of them were still there, offering their prayers for Kevin’s recovery. More than 300 people visited or called during the next five days and members of 14 other congregations were contacted by York’s church family.

“God answered their prayers,” said York, who surprised everyone when he awoke only hours after surgery and rattled off the phone numbers of his business clients who needed to be contacted. He left the hospital 11 days later and is on his way to a full recovery.

“He has a very strong faith, and I think that is important,” said Tedder. “I feel like we are sort of tools here, and there is someone who has a heavier hand than I do,” the surgeon said.

“The doctors assure me that I’ll be as healthy as I ever was,” York said. “I think it all goes back to people praying for me.”

As he gets his strength back and resumes his normal schedule, York counts his blessings and reflects. “Obviously, God wasn’t done with me so I have to find out what He wants me to do now.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MIRACLE MAN. Reprinted by permission from the Saint Thomas Heart Newsletter. www.saintthomas.org

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  • Janice Mashburn