The Ex Vivo Miracle

Last night’s finale of the ABC reality series “NY Med” involved a miracle. No, not a call-the-Vatican-and-start-the-investigations type of miracle. It was more along the lines of the song lyric “Even a miracle needs a hand” from the animated Christmas cartoon “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”

Rita Saverino, a wife and mother of two, had been diagnosed with a grapefruit sized cancerous tumor behind her liver. The only way to get it out and make sure the cancer is removed from the surrounding areas is to perform an “ex vivo” surgery. That means Saverino’s abdominal organs – her liver, stomach, kidney, and intestines – would be surgically removed, operated on outside her body, then replaced into her body once the tumor was removed.

Seven surgeons told Saverino this procedure couldn’t be done, until she found Dr. Tomoaki Kato at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is one of the only surgeons in the world willing to perform this cutting edge procedure. He offers no guarantees it will work because he could find something unexpected that tests didn’t reveal once he cuts her open. But Dr. Kato is willing to try. Otherwise, Saverino has a death sentence anyway.

In the end, the surgery lasted 18 hours, but was successful, giving Saverino a new lease on life – and a greater appreciation for how precious every day with her husband and two sons really is. She says, “Life is fragile. Life is precious. I believe in miracles.”

Sometimes people only think of miracles as occasions where God spontaneously and mysteriously heals someone of a terminal illness. And while there are certainly enough cases of that happening, there are even more occasions in which we human beings can be conduits of miracles – in which we can give the miracle a hand, as the lyric above suggests.

Dr. Kato worked and studied for many years so he could develop his talents to the point where he could do something that many consider impossible. He deserves enormous credit for the work he put into his career. But I believe those natural talents that he developed were planted inside him by God who knew that this man could be a healer in the future if he followed his calling.

Father James Keller, the founder of The Christophers, once wrote, “It’s up to you to discover and fulfill the particular mission in life which Christ assigned to you and no one else. The more you realize how much you are needed, the more initiative, imagination and courage you will show in bringing out the great power God has hidden within you. It should thrill you to realize that God wishes you to be His instrument in renewing the face of the earth – and that your efforts will bear fruit from now into eternity.”

In other words, each of us has it in us to be a conduit of miracles for others in some way. Most of those ways will not be as dramatic as Dr. Kato’s way, but every piece of the puzzle is important to the finished product. Or maybe the better metaphor to use in this case is St. Paul’s statement, “If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow completely into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole Body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each individual part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up in love.”

Miracles can happen every day if we choose to play our part. The next time you have the opportunity, consider giving the miracle a hand.

To watch the full epsiode of “NY Med,” go here.

To read my previous article about the show’s heroic nurses, entitled “What Their Treatment of a Homeless Woman Reveals About the ER Nurses of “NY Med,” go here.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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