Ken Kirby: Prayer in the Emergency Room
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
It was December 27, 2008. Fifty-two-year old police officer Ken Kirby experienced severe chest and arm pain while putting away Christmas decorations. His wife Tina called 911 and an emergency crew rushed Ken to Oconee Medical Center in Seneca, South Carolina. Emergency room physician Edwin Leap was waiting with his team.
As Ken was being treated for pain, he had a massive heart attack.
Dr. Leap says, “He has heart rhythms that aren’t consistent with life. He gets shocked. He gets shocked repeatedly. In between shocks, he’s getting CPR. He’s getting resuscitation, drugs, epinephrine, or adrenaline. He’s getting lidocaine for the heart rhythm. He’s getting magnesium. We give him thrombotic drugs, and he’s still in cardiac arrest. This goes on and on and on with what I counted 11 episodes of defibrillation.”
Tina was by her husband’s side until he went into cardiac arrest and she was asked to leave. She says, “I’m taken back out of the room into a hallway that’s filled with 50 plus people. Pastor, friends, church family, related family, my children, and everyone starts gathering around and we start praying, I mean praying.”
Dr. Leap says, “We aren’t getting pulses. In the process of this, this looks grim. People don’t survive heart attacks with this prolong resuscitation, because he’s not getting oxygen to his heart. He’s not getting adequate oxygen to his brain [and] his kidneys.”
Dr. Leap told Tina that Ken probably wouldn’t survive. Tina was devastated by the news especially since she and Ken had been arguing for days.
“I’m looking at Dr. Leap, and I’m looking at my pastor who’s right by me. I say, ‘Okay, how do I tell him I’m sorry now?’ I don’t get to take any of that back. He’s gone. I’m begging, pleading and looking into the faces of my two children.
They’ve just lost their daddy. Nothing will ever be the same,” Tina says.
Dr. Leap says: “During the resuscitation, we’re working. Nothing’s working. Tina has already been in. The whole family and I looked at the staff and said, ‘We need to pray about this.’ There was no moment. We dropped to our knees, and there was no moment that we stopped doing anything, but I know they did.”
Over 45 minutes passed. Ken still didn’t have a pulse. Then finally…
“We’ve got a pulse,” Dr. Leap recalls. “I go back in. We take the bedside ultrasound machine and see he has some cardiac activity. A little pump, not a lot, but he’s got something.”
Tina recalls, “I believe that was the moment when God heard all those prayers from the waiting room and reached down and touched.”
Dr. Leap and his team did everything they could before sending Ken to a Greenville Area Hospital for emergency surgery.
Dr. Leap says, “Ken’s as stable as we’re going to get him. He goes to Greenville, and we’re glad that we’ve had some success. We’re thankful and excited, but really, a lot of us have done this for a long time. We’re not holding out a lot of hope for a good outcome. We’re just not.”
Family and friends continued to pray as surgeons worked for three hours to remove a blockage in Ken’s heart. Afterward the only thing to do was wait.
Ken says, “I remember waking up in a different hospital, a day and a half later with my wife and both of my kids coming into the room. I said, ‘Hey,’ not realizing what I’d been through completely at that time.”
Dr. Leap says, “This is remarkable. This was a man [who] the day before had been cyanotic, purplish blue from the waist up. With a very long resuscitation, 45 minutes of CPR, it’s incredible. It’s an incredible story.”
Ken was released from the hospital in only nine days and returned to duty much faster than expected. Dr. Leap, a Christian, loves to tell people about Ken’s amazing story.
“This is a person by all standard measures should have died,” Dr. Leap says. “But he didn’t. Not only did he not die, he physically survived and mentally survived and was talking the next day. I can’t imagine that this is nothing more than divine intervention. Now, were we a part of that because we prayed? I believe we were. We worked hard and believed that there was something happening here.”
Tina says, “It made me appreciate my husband more too. It truly helped me realize and learn there are a whole lot of things out there to be concerned about. We need to stop sweating the small stuff and appreciate our loves, our soul mates, our families and what the Lord has truly given us.”
Ken agrees, “I realize and my family realizes that without those prayers going on in that hospital that day, I wouldn’t be standing here. I’m one of God’s modern day miracles.”
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