The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


A Baby at Death's Door: The Miracle Story of Ethan Stacy

By Ken Hulme
The 700 Club By the time Ethan’s parents took the long painful walk through the cemetery to see the place where they would bury their son, Ethan Stacy was within days of death.

Ethan was already under the care of a hospice nurse. His body was rapidly shutting down.

According to Dr. Melissa Rhodes, Ethan had AML, an aggressive type of leukemia. She serves in the oncology unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., where she was one of Ethan’s physicians.

Ethan with AML“Children who are actually born with leukemia don’t usually do very well,” Dr. Rhodes says. “The best that we could offer was to put Ethan through difficult chemotherapy and still not know that he would make it through.”

In fact, chemotherapy is so toxic for newborns that doctors gave Ethan’s parents the option not to treat their son. After two weeks in the hospital, Chad and Mandy made the painful decision to take their son home.

“The chemo could kill him,” Chad says. “There are all kinds of risks.”

“We came home and I remember lying in bed and praying,” Mandy says. “We said, ‘God, give us an answer’. We both woke up the next morning and both said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to put him through it’.”

Most doctors at Vanderbilt supported that decision. “We figured if Ethan truly had the kind of leukemia that we felt he had, then even with full treatment he may not do well,” says Dr. Rhodes. “For that reason we felt it was right to honor the family’s decision.”

After only a few days at home, Ethan’s baby acne, which is common in newborns, had become infected. So they went back to the hospital. That’s when the tumors began to show up…

“We noticed a lump in his calf,” says Mandy. “We paged the doctor, and they told us that it could be a blood clot or a build up of the leukemia cells, which is called chloroma.”

Tumors started popping up in other places such as Ethan’s feet, hands, and his forearm.

Dr. Melissa Rhodes“Leukemia itself means cancer of the blood; it’s a blood disease,” explains Dr. Rhodes. “But in this particular kind of leukemia it can also go out into the tissues. That’s what we believe was happening with Ethan. He actually had leukemia in his skin, in his hands, his feet, and his legs, as well as in his liver and spleen which is more common. So he was showing that he had a very advanced disease at that point.”

Ethan was now about three weeks old, and his condition really started to decline. He stopped eating and began to experience sleep apnea.

“[The nurse] told me that he might develop what’s called sepsis, which would be a total body infection, and that he would go peacefully or he might hemorrhage,” Mandy recalls. “I would see blood in his diaper or maybe coming out of his ears. I was so scared to open up his diaper to even change it.”

When the hospice nurse arrived, Chad and Mandy knew they were near the end but Chad, Mandy and their friends continued to pray… believing God for the impossible.

“I remember rocking him and singing, ‘Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you’,” Mandy says. “I knew that if I just focused my mind on Christ that’s the only way that I could make it through.”

The night that Ethan faced his greatest medical crisis, something happened. “Mandy late that night started feeding, and he started taking his bottle a little bit at a time,” Chad says.

The next day, Ethan was a little stronger… But was he having one final rebound before death?

Chad and Mandy StacyMandy says, “I remember sitting at the kitchen table and saying, ‘I believe God’s healing him. I can see God working.’ Then he just gradually started getting better. And over the next week, we were back up to six ounces of formula every three hours.”

Over the next two weeks, Ethan improved! And when Mandy took him back to Vanderbilt to check his blood counts? “His platelets level was like 415,000 -- in normal range, where it had been 39,000 at his lowest point.”

This stumped Dr. Rhodes and her colleagues. “Ethan had gotten about as sick as a baby could possibly get and then spontaneously got better. So we wanted to look. We did the bone marrow test, which showed no evidence of leukemia. The tumors gradually went down over a period of probably a week or so. It was just remarkable to witness it.”

Chad and Mandy knew they had witnessed a miracle when they repeated the bone marrow biopsy in July with the same results.

Ethan Stacy todayToday, Ethan Stacy is a strapping two-year-old, who loves playing with his dad and big sister Kaylee. It goes without saying that the Stacys are thankful.

"The prayers of my friends and church members meant everything to me,” Chad says.

Mandy agrees. “It’s just awesome that we have a God like that… I just can’t get over the miracles. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him because I know it’s going to be big.”

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