He “dies” in recovery, but comes back counting his blessings

It pays to sit in Economy Comfort. On a recent flight from Atlanta, my carry on bag was jam packed. I headed for 11E wondering how I’d lift it to the overhead. 11D jumped up and took over.

Not only that, he shared a fine Godsigns story—about the importance of focusing on our blessings in life.

David Kirkland

David Kirkland

David Kirkland is an exec with a large Atlanta-based outsourcing firm. He lives with wife Judy, an interior designer, on a lake in Hiawassee, GA. Sitting next to David on that flight, I quickly realized that, if he was the kind of person who looked at his life’s ledger from a different perspective, I would have understood some anger and regret from the “red ink.” Among other things, he virtually died in a hospital recovery room after a major surgery failed.

But not David—and that’s why he’s my Godsigns story this week. David is a ringer for Joe Montana. He’s a grateful-to-be-alive ringer with similar spiky grey hair and blue eyes. And he’s a pleasure to meet because, when this guy looks at the pluses and balances in his life’s story—he counts the blessings.

In 2008, David’s life was threatened. His level-5 mitral valve prolapse, brought on by a previous virus, worsened. Medicine became less effective in controlling it. The irregular beating of his heart increased. His ejection fraction (the heart’s ability to pump blood) fell to 25. 50 or more is optimum. A yearly echocardiogram showed chamber enlargement.

A catheter test determined David didn’t need bypass surgery. Instead, he underwent a less invasive arthroscopic port procedure.

Then, two hours after surgery, in recovery, the repair blew out. David’s heart stopped. His lungs filled with fluid.

He was rushed back to the O.R., and a titanium valve was implanted. He remained in an induced coma for 5 days. In all David spent 16 days in the hospital. 4 weeks later he was back to work. 6 weeks later he played his first post-op round of golf.

This gracious man had “friends all over the country praying for me.” After surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room and reported to David’s wife that he’d “felt the prayers.” The nurse who worked with the doc said she’d never heard him say that before.

David will be on Coumadin (blood thinner) for the rest of his life. But his ejection fraction is up to 63, and his cardiologist told him, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

That dramatic story may sound terrifying—but not as David tells the story.

He says the experience came with “all kinds of blessings.” David says he’s become more relaxed and has learned to say “no.” And he’s become more focused on others’ desired outcomes. “Seek to understand what others want and help them to get it, and everything will be yours.”

A devoted supporter of Wounded Warriors, David says, “I’ve lost a couple of fortunes in some bad business deals, but I don’t regret it. It’s part of who I am.”

Friends have asked if he ever considered suing the hospital where his heart valve blew out. “Why?” he says. “They gave me the greatest gift ever. They gave me my life back.”

And by the way, this true gentleman not only took my bag down for me, he wheeled it up the ramp. Thanks, David, for an inspiring Godsigns story. And the shortest flight ever.

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6 thoughts on “He “dies” in recovery, but comes back counting his blessings

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Jan. I shoot for smile worthy stories every week. Glad you enjoyed.

  1. Rodney

    At first I thought you meant that David felt the prayers, but you meant the doctor. That’s somehow even more fascinating.

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