When He Didn't Have a Prayer, Prayer Changed Things
It seemed hopeless. Gary Watts' liver
was failing and he needed a transplant. The doctors said he had about nine
months to live, but the waiting list for a transplant was a year and half
- and his insurance didn't cover transplants. Gary couldn't even get on the
waiting list unless he had nearly a $200,000 in cash.
When a former schoolmate died in a car accident, his family requested that Gary be contacted. But with no insurance or the full amount of cash, doctors at Kansas University Medical Center wouldn't go to work. None of the pre-testing had been done at that time. It was time to pray.
"Calvary Chapel in Ark City, where we are members,
started a prayer chain," Gary's wife Jamie recalls. "The prayer
request was even put on the Internet. Gary's mom Delena called her aunt in
Oklahoma. The girl who did our story in the Ark City paper called her mother
in Georgia to start a prayer chain. Rev. Paul Bannister started prayer chains
here at the Attica Christian Church, called on his sister in Belleville and
his daughter in Texas and also called all the other pastors in Attica to ask
their churches to join the prayer chain." Jamie marveled, "and Paul
said prayers were even offered at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem."
"UNMC is within two miles of the Mutual of Omaha office, an easy call to make if I needed help," Jamie said. While a physician flew for the donated liver, the Watts drove to Jabara Airport in Wichita for the flight to Omaha. The pilot was Chris Kelley who had once worked with Gary.
"When we got UNMC, the Lied Transplant Center was being built beside the hospital," Gary marveled, "and there was a set of doors that I had built on the elevator. When we'd done that job 10 months previous, one of my buddies kidded me that I ought to deliver them and get a liver transplant while I was there."
Gary's surgery was not routine. His liver was so degenerated, it took an extra hour of surgery just removing it - it was so stuck in place. After the surgery, Gary was taken to the recovery room with tubes and electrical sensors coming out all over his body. "An Ark City friend's husband had also had a liver transplant," Jamie says, "and she prepared me for what he'd look like after the surgery or it would have been quite a shock."
"Here's what we learned from our experience," Jamie noted. "Be sure you're fully covered when choosing an insurance policy. Mutual of Omaha paid over $200,000 so far, before the last of the bills for his surgery came in! You and every member of your family can check the organ donor box on your driver's license, and discuss it with your loved ones. Your next of kin will have to decide to donate the organs," she explained, "so be sure your wishes are clear to them. The organs from one donor can save seven people or more, but that one donor's tissue, muscle, bone, skin, ligament can save even more!"
Rev. Paul Bannister noted that through the entire thing Gary maintained the sweetest spirit. He observed, "I never knew Gary to be bitter. Even when he was unable to accept the first liver (from his former classmate), Gary just said someone else must have needed it more than he did. His unwavering faith touched us," Paul said. "Gary seemed to know that when we came up against a hurdle, God would carry us through."