Healing and Autonomy
Mike and Joanne are the parents of James and Samuel, identical twins born 8 years
ago. James is currently suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. James
was originally brought into the hospital for complications associated with a strep throat
infection. The spread of the A streptococcus infection led to the subsequent
kidney failure. James’s condition was acute enough to warrant immediate treatment.
Usually cases of acute glomerulonephritis caused by strep infection tend to improve on
their own or with an antibiotic. However, James also had elevated blood pressure and
enough fluid buildup that required temporary dialysis to relieve.
The attending physician suggested immediate dialysis. After some time of discussion
with Joanne, Mike informs the physician that they are going to forego the dialysis and
place their faith in God. Mike and Joanne had been moved by a sermon their pastor had
given a week ago, and also had witnessed a close friend regain mobility when she was
prayed over at a healing service after a serious stroke. They thought it more prudent to
take James immediately to a faith healing service instead of putting James through
multiple rounds of dialysis. Yet, Mike and Joanne agreed to return to the hospital after
the faith healing services later in the week, and in hopes that James would be healed by
Two days later the family returned and was forced to place James on dialysis, as his
condition had deteriorated. Mike felt perplexed and tormented by his decision to not
treat James earlier. Had he not enough faith? Was God punishing him or James? To
make matters worse, James's kidneys had deteriorated such that his dialysis was now
not a temporary matter and was in need of a kidney transplant. Crushed and desperate,
Mike and Joanne immediately offered to donate one of their own kidneys to James, but
they were not compatible donors. Over the next few weeks, amidst daily rounds of
dialysis, some of their close friends and church members also offered to donate a
kidney to James. However, none of them were tissue matches.
James’s nephrologist called to schedule a private appointment with Mike and Joanne.
James was stable, given the regular dialysis, but would require a
kidney transplant within the year. Given the desperate situation, the nephrologist
informed Mike and Joanne of a donor that was an ideal
tissue match, but as of yet had not been considered—James’s brother Samuel.
Mike vacillates and struggles to decide whether he should have his other son Samuel
lose a kidney or perhaps wait for God to do a miracle this time around. Perhaps this is
where the real testing of his faith will come in? Mike reasons, “This time around it is a
matter of life and death. What could require greater faith than that?”
Purchase answer to see full