Girl Survives Complicated Surgery… So Guess Who’s Getting Credit?

A three-year-old girl named Emily Thomas has had major health problems her whole life, but things got worse this month:

At 10 days old, baby Emily suffered a stroke as a result of an MRSA staph infection that spread to her blood. She was left legally blind, brain damaged and with cerebral palsy.

About two weeks ago, a common cold almost suffocated Emily. From their home in Tyler, Emily was flown by plane to Children’s Medical Center, where her mother has made a difficult decision.

A permanent tracheotomy — a hole in Emily’s neck — will give her the ability to breathe. But, the procedure to be done Tuesday afternoon will rob her of her voice.

There were some complications with the procedure, but you’ll be happy to know that Emily’s now doing really well and breathing on her own:

So why am I posting about it?

Because I glanced at the comments on the news website…

At least the last one was made by someone with the good sense to thank the doctors.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • William Snedden

    Wow…props to Mike Davis! (I’m a eZine reader)

  • http://www.facebook.com/misanthropemike Mike Davis

    Thanks for the post, Hemant.  I’m pretty laid back, usually.  But sometimes it’s just too much.  A hell of a lot of training and talent is what is helping this kid, not some imaginary god.  And why did “god” let her get sick in the first place?  He seems to get all the credit, but never any of the blame.

    And William, thanks for the kind words, and for being a Lovecraft eZine reader…!

    • Drew M.

       My first thought was, “I need to find Mike Davis and thank him for that.” Lo and behold, here you are.

      Thanks, Mike!

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      KUDOS MIKE!! :)

    • Go

      Well, first of all, we are already thanking the doctors by paying them thousands and thousands of dollars for the surgery and everyday that person stays in the hospital. So to a certain degree, teh doctors are already getting thanked. Let me ask you this now? How are the doctors alive to even give the surgery? Who brought them into existence? What if something happened to one or all of them such that they were unable to even give the surgery? Who would save them? The only reason doctors exist is because God gave them the intelligence to do what they do and the grace to let them live on this earth long enough to save more people. So at the end of the day, God is the source of all life and all that is good, so giving God the credit before giving man credit is the most humble thing to do. Another thing is that there are doctors that thank God that their pateints survive these surgeries because they know very well that many patients dont survive complicated surgeries. They CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH and they are aware of their expansive yet very limited ability to save and maintain a person’s life. I have seen this happen all the time. It is good to have faith in people and to thank them, but the first to recive the glory, the honor, and the praise, not just the credit, should be God.

      • Guest

        So I guess god doesn’t need any credit for giving the little girl any of her health problems? How but he need thanks for forcing her and her family to spend loads of money on doctors, who don’t need any thanks for spending hours on their feet often with little to no sleep to perform complicated procedures?
        Oh, and yes god gave the doctors the intelligence to perform these tasks, all that schooling and money they spent to get that education amounts to nothing, after all god provided it for them.

        In the real world the intelligence you praise isn’t something given to them, but a choice and effort they made. There are very few people in this world who actually are gifted to not to need to put forth this effort. If you want to credit god with anything then he can only be credited with the initial creation. At this point god gives us very little if anything, the rest is effort put out on our part. I’ll believe in god helping when he decides to actually prove his existence by rewarding those who believe in him, with health, less worries, and happiness.

        Oh and before you go on to say that this life is meant to prepare us for the next, I’ll leave you with some thoughts.

        Do we really need to suffer in this life, mind you that in the next according to the bible free will/temptation won’t exist so is there really a need to go through all we do here to prepare for a time when we wont need such preparation? (It’s like studying for a profession that needs none of the skills you studied for)

        If you really think god is good, you need to read the bible again. To call god good is a play in words, we call him good but describe him as evil. If you read through the bible, take a count of every evil deed performed by god or the devil. (Note: you can’t be biased, for example flooding the earth is generally considered an evil act, otherwise we wouldn’t be trying to fight global warming. So is destroying cities, turning people to pillars of salt for merely looking back, asking someone to kill their own child, causing plagues, etc… For this exercise you need to assume god is nothing more than a human
        otherwise you may find yourself using your prejudice to evaluate him,
        same with the devil.)  I’m sure that you will be surprised to find that god fares far worse than the devil. And since there is no instance in the bible of god repenting for his actions, which seems to be the only way to removal sin/evil from ones self. Also considering that a single instance of sin, causes one to be considered evil and worthy of being cast into hell.

        I would sooner believe Raistlin was good that believe that the money a doctor recieves is thanks enough, and that god dererves all the credi for the sucesses the doctor managed.

  • SteveS

    How come the god crowd isn’t upset that their all-powerful, all-seeing. all-knowing deity let a 10-day old infant get staph septicemia and have a stroke. If their mean god were to exist, I would gladly take my place in his hell just to be as far from that nasty bastard, as possible.

    • digitalatheist

      I said a while back that if he did exist I would do my best to rip his testes out and shove them down his throat. Sigh… as I mentioned in a post at the FA forums, if ‘god’ is responsible for everything, shouldn’t he get the blame for the bad stuff too?

  • Servaas

    Study the bible and you’ll have a better understanding of why people respond like that.

    • Glasofruix

      You mean that your personnal skydaddy likes to torture little girls and when doctors save their lives you have to actually thank the sick bastard who got them there in the first place? How about you roll that bible real tight and stuff it real deep in the trash bin?

    • Bender

       We understand it alright. It’s called “Stockholm syndrome”.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Because they need any shred of evidence they can conjure to fortify their denial that their “celestia” is a misogynistic, racist murderer?

  • Nickolas Gucker

    Way to go Mike, thanks for being a voice of reason. 

  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    I guess god doesn’t give two shits about those sick kids that die.. or were they sinners and god killed them? 

  • DG

    Yeah, I’m sure nobody in the comments believe in doctors or that the doctors had anything to do with it.  Tell me this isn’t really how atheists understand religious faith.  Please say it isn’t so.

    • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

      How are we to understand religious faith when the comments are all about praising god and not giving any credit to the doctors who provided the care?

      • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

        To be fair, there seem to be two kinds of God comments in the article. One kind seems to be using phrases like “God bless [the girl and/or her mother]” as a generic expression of concern and hope that the girl and her family pull through. At least one of those comments seems to give at least some credit to the doctors.

        Mixed in with those comments, though, are a few that seem to give God all the credit, including that first comment which says, “[God] is the real doctor.”

      • DG

        That, Buffy, is a fair question and one that is not a problem.  There’s no problem at all when atheists admit they don’t get religion.  Religion is sort of like a different culture.  When I was an agnostic, I didn’t get it.  It’s tough to explain for that reason.  Admitting you don’t get it is fine.  But assuming that all the praise for God means they are slighting, ignoring, or not caring about the contributions of the doctors would be to miss the mark completely. 

        Again, I would love to explain it, but it isn’t easy if you don’t accept the existence of the divine.  Just like it wasn’t easy for me until I crossed the street and saw things from a different POV.  Now it’s a little like explaining how to make a PB&J (you’ve probably seen that exercise – I know it, it’s just tough to remember all the details that will help it make sense).

        • Drew M.

          “Praise the Lord! Have faith in God. He’s the Real Doctor.”

          How is that *not* a slight against the people who did the work?

          No need to try and “explain it” though. Been there, done that, got the neurotic guilt as a souvenir. It’s pretty simple, really. The Christians I was raised with and know see the doctors as tools with god doing the “real” work. It made no more sense for them to consider thanking the doctor than it would to thank a mechanic’s wrench for a repaired car.

        • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

           I was a Christian for 20 years.  I finally woke up and realized I was only a Christian because I’d been taught to be one, that I only believed in God because I’d been taught to, and that there was no evidence for any gods.   Nonetheless, even when I was a believer I never had (or got) that mindset where I’d have, for example, someone survive surgery and my first or only response would be “Thank God for his wonderful miracle!”.  I’d always be grateful for the efforts of the doctors and nurses, as well as the medical knowledge that allowed it all to happen.  

          Basically it’s not just existence of the divine that’s my problem.  It’s that mentality of ignoring/negating all of the time, effort, knowledge, etc. that humans put into everything and giving all the credit to “god”.  But of course when anything bad happens the blame always goes to humans–or Satan.  Because god never ever does anything bad. 

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

           Your answer is pretty obnoxious. It kinda says “I would love to explain it to you, but your not in the *in* club that would be able to understand the explanation, so I will just keep saying that it is something you can’t understand, much as I would love to explain it if you were someone able to understand, so I won’t actually try to explain it, even though that would have been a shorter answer than repeatedly telling you that you can’t understand the explanation.”

          • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

             Yeah.  I don’t mind if a quantum physicist says it’s too hard to explain quantum physics to me.  I admit I don’t understand quantum physics.   But with religion/faith there’s really nothing to understand.  People believe certain things because they want to and/or because they were taught to.  Whenever people start pretending I’m too incapable of understanding their “great truths” because I’m stubborn/evil/under the sway of Satan/too happy living in sin/whatever it makes me shake my head.  I’m sure they think they’re being profound and possibly loving, but they’re just being rude and condescending.

        • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

          It makes sense that you insist on us sharing your delusion before we can ‘get it’.

          I would wager a number of the religious would say that god is somehow acting through the doctors, using them agents. If so, then if god suddenly were looking the other way, the doctors would not be able to achieve the same level of achievement correct?
          In that case, when a doctor is sued for negligence, he or she should argue that it was actually god that dropped the ball the day.

        • Ken

          Let’s see — there’s this book with all the answers.  Except the answers are consistently wrong or simple common sense that other books have been saying for centuries beforehand.  But I can’t understand the magical truth of it because I am resisting the magic part, which doesn’t work anymore anyway.  And if I don’t buy the fairy tales, I’m going to suffer for eternity — eternity, for a decision I make in a comparative blink of an eye.  Yeah.  I get it now.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty
    • Edmond

      It’s one thing to call these people out for not publicly thanking the doctors.  Maybe they thank the doctors under other forums.  That’s fine.

      But, it’s another thing entirely to claim that this was god’s will, and that it was a “precious gift”.  Because then they’re saying that it was god’s will for this child to be left legally blind, brain damaged, suffering from cerebral palsy, and breathing through a stoma for the rest of her life.  Considering the difficulties she and her family face, the costs, the stresses, the limitations… it might’ve been a greater mercy if she HAD died.

      And, as someone else pointed out, god also ignored millions of other children who died horribly while “tending” to this girl.  None of this is “miraculous”, or even admirable in any way.  Instead of keeping this girl safe from the infection in the FIRST place, god royally screwed her over with all this.  Deliberately.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GIK2LNOOIERDVWXBJBN76JAHH4 Cheryl Kohout

        Egads, Edmond — you don’t think god’s real plan was for her to die and that his will was thwarted by the physicians, do you? Because, frankly, without the godless science of medicine, she wouldn’t be here. Sure has to make one wonder …

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

          I like your idea that the job of physicians is thwarting god (if one existed).

          Sounds like a good name for a medical school chapter of the Secular Student Alliance: “Physicians Thwarting God”, or “Physicians Saving Humans, Thwarting God”.

  • TheAnalogKid

    It’s wonderful that this child is now doing well. The question I always ask the God bothers is, when this child was being saved by God, what was happening with the unknown number of children who not only died at that exact moment, but died horribly?

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      God works in mysterious ways…

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

         *rolleyes*

        Oh, how I loathe that phrase.

        • Kevin_Of_Bangor

          It was that or God needed another angel. Those are the two phrases I hear the most often.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    Not only do they praise god rather than the doctors who treated her, they don’t seem to ask why god let her be afflicted with her condition in the first place.  Oh, I forgot–everything bad comes from Satan or human evil while all good comes from god.  

    • Artor

      Yahweh vs Satan…which one is the evil twin? I can never tell them apart.

  • http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/ Liz Heywood

    It’s superstition. Like saying “Knock on wood!” As in, “Don’t strike me down, too, god, I know I live and die at your whim and my religious belief is like fire insurance–hate those bills but gotta have it even while I NEVER want to need it!!”

  • Gunstargreen

    Thank our mighty god for the horrible torture he’s inflicted onto this child since she was 10 days old…

    Oh wait that doesn’t sound quite as good.

    • Mike Laing

       It sounds more than equally valid – quite a bit closer to the truth, if you(not you, Gungstargreen!) were to believe in god and be rational

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      It’s her own fault for being born a sinner.

  • Ken

    So I guess all those hospital and doctor bills can be passed on to God, too.  He will provide.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Not sure if I would ask God to cover the bill.

      But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money

      George Carlin

  • Robyman4

    Most of those comments aren’t surprising at all. Remember, this is TEXAS we’re talking about. I live in the “lone star state” – in the Dallas metroplex. I have to listen to crap like this all the time. But things just might be changing… I’m a member of a few Free Thinkers groups, and the Fellowship of Freethought is particularly active…

  • http://www.facebook.com/krystal.crowly Krystal Crowly

    Like the videos of kids getting to hear for 1st time thanks to a hearing aid . All the post are GOD blessed him, and God’s work, Thank God,…etc My post to those is thank science for that aid, thank the doctors for helping!
    Give credit where credit is due!

  • ravenshrike

     Look, the Doctor is pretty damn kick-ass and good at saving people, but calling him God is a bit much.  Besides, he just used his sonic to fix the lighting system which was on the fritz.

  • http://twitter.com/LynnFDR LynnFDR

    If a god (nature) were the doctor, the child would be dead.  And sometimes it may be best to let nature take its course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyjwmoss Tony Moss

    From what I can tell, god tried to murder this little girl only to be thwarted by doctors!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

       And the next time someone opposes something like birth control because it “thwarts godswill,” kick ‘em right in the thwart.  For me.

  • Dan

    You people are really sick, how can you be offended by something you don’t believe in? It really makes you wonder what level of intellectual development you stopped at, probably the one where you found out Santa was imaginary….

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      We’re not “offended by something we don’t believe in”.

      The thing is, “God” didn’t spend 4, 8, 10 hours in the OR working on that kid, A TEAM OF HIGHLY TRAINED AND DEDICATED HUMANS DID. And you know what, saying that “God worked a miracle” is really fucking offensive to the ACTUAL PEOPLE WHO DID THE ACTUAL WORK.


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