Posted by: calloftheandes | February 29, 2012

Prayer and Care Save Boy’s Life at Ecuador Hospital

by Jessica McMillan

Gabriel (right) with his older brother

His big, round belly stuck out from spindly arms and legs. The serious expression on Gabriel’s face reflected a sadness that I’ve found typical of children with serious health problems.

Five years old, he’d already seen too many hospitals across Ecuador. At Hospital Vozandes-Shell, our doctors were in awe at just how enlarged his spleen was.

Surgery was scheduled. The evening before Gabriel’s operation, I tried to direct his mind elsewhere as we read together and colored in a little book about Jesus. We played with his little stuffed tiger and then Legos (his first time). His creativity in Lego construction amazed me. Gabriel and I became friends that evening and for the first time in a week, I saw him smile. The next day as I wheeled him through the double doors of the operating suite, I implored the Great Physician. Please could this all go well?

Later I found my new friend’s father in his son’s room crying. I don’t see this often in Ecuadorian men. When I sat next to him on the bed, he voiced his concern about hospitalization costs. He had left his work to seek Gabriel’s care and just the day before, Gabriel had told me of three siblings back in Coca with his mom. I was happy to tell the father of the Fondo de Amor (charity fund) for those who can’t afford care.

Before my shift ended, Gabriel returned from surgery. In post op, his greatest immediate risk was bleeding. In obvious pain and squirming on the big hospital bed, Gabriel was perhaps fearful and certainly uncomfortable. We gave him something for pain and as I finished my shift he was resting. No signs of bleeding.

The next afternoon however, Gabriel had not only begun to bleed, but had vomited blood – a lot of it! As I quickly conducted patient rounds, the nurse going off shift went to help Gabriel.

He was vomiting blood again. His heart rate was very fast. Looking withdrawn, he barely responded to us. As I checked the unit of blood Gabriel was receiving, Nora walked into the room. Having overheard that Gabriel might not make it, she stopped by to make sure that I would be okay. Relieved to have Nora there for me, I was also able to look after other patients as she tended to Gabriel.

With Nora at his bedside, a nurses’ aide, Lidia, came in. Together they prayed over Gabriel, and then led him in a prayer of repentance and salvation. They prayed for his healing. Nora watched as immediately Gabriel’s heart rate began to slow and stabilize. He never vomited blood again!

Jessica with Gabriel and his father

As I infused blood into his little body throughout the day, I wasn’t alone in this effort to save Gabriel’s life. Our team of missionaries and local staff worked with the Great Physician, the God who creates, gives and sustains life. Gabriel continued to recover and regain strength. First he was moved out of critical care and then he was ready to be discharged.
He still needed postoperative care however. His family came from Coca and stayed in our casitas (basic dwellings nearby for those who have travelled great distances). So we met Gabriel’s family too.

The best part happened awhile later. Scurrying around the nurses’ station on another busy shift, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Something moving across the window of Gabriel’s nearby room. There was Gabriel, playing peek-a-boo with me.

I “caught” him and a huge smile spread over his face.


  1. […] conference center for training local church workers. Rebekah’s dad was an anesthesiologist at the HCJB mission hospital in town. And Cristina’s parents worked with the local church while her dad trained to be a pilot with my […]

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