On Wednesday, this newspaper ran a special report on an international organ-trafficking ring that was broken up last year. Poor Brazilians were being flown to South Africa, where they sold one of their kidneys to Israelis whose kidneys had failed.
As an editor on the Monitor's foreign desk, I was deeply involved in this project. But during the seven months of research, I became more familiar with the subject than I ever anticipated. After returning from Southern Africa in February, I was diagnosed with cerebral malaria, which the doctors told me had led to acute kidney failure. They told me that if I didn't get treatment, I would die. They could help keep me alive, they said, but had no way of jump-starting my faulty organs. "You're going to have to heal yourself," one doctor told me, finding out that I was a Christian Scientist. "There is nothing we can do."
Hospitals can be unfamiliar to Christian Scientists, most of whom have come to realize that physical healing of every kind is possible by applying God's law. Through his healing work, Christ Jesus demonstrated that God could not be party to humanity's suffering. Mary Baker Eddy discovered the spiritual rules that made Jesus' healings possible and explained them in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
In February, after a few days of feeling terrible, I fell asleep on the couch, - at least that's all I remember. My wife and my brother, who were very fearful of the symptoms I was exhibiting, called 911, and I was whisked to the Boston Medical Center.
When I came to, eight days later, I was told that I had malaria. As the Monitor's Africa editor, I know that more than a million people die each year in Africa of the disease, so I was grateful just to have made it through to this point, and for the care given to me by the hospital staff.
But when I learned of my diagnosis, I was in shock. Like the Israelis in the Monitor's story on Wednesday, I was told I needed to begin dialysis, which simulates the function of the kidneys, to keep me alive.
Yet I also had hope. Through my study of those spiritual rules - God's laws - I had learned that physical healing, no matter how big the problem, is always possible. And not only possible, but it is God's will.
"I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds," Jeremiah records God as saying in the Old Testament (30:17). "Jesus never spoke of disease as dangerous or as difficult to heal," Mrs. Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in Science and Health. "He prescribed no drugs, urged no obedience to material laws, but acted in direct disobedience to them" (pages 147-148).
In the past I had been stricken with debilitating allergies at this time of year, but have overcome them through prayer. And one day a co-worker complained to me that his wrist was painful and immobile. On our walk to lunch, after a brief chat and a moment of prayer, his wrist returned to normal. Neither of these experiences was as intimidating as what I was facing in February, but they showed that there was more to human life than meets the eye.
Over the next several days I read Science and Health and spoke daily with a professional Christian Science healer. I became confident that a full healing was inevitable.
But after a week, still on dialysis, there was no progress. Fear threatened to overwhelm me. Still, I was growing more confident in God's power to heal me.
A breakthrough came when my boss reminded me of the report we were doing on organ trafficking, and I must admit that I had unwittingly begun to accept as reality the intractability of kidney failure. If it could affect some people, could it affect me?
I was buying into the perception that man is merely a bunch of component parts that can wear out, like a car. And yet Jesus taught the inviolability of man as the heir to God's goodness, and that perfection and wholeness constitute the true state of man. I prayed to see this more fully, and two days later my kidneys began functioning again. Within a week I was fully healed of all the symptoms related to the disease.
For people diagnosed with kidney failure, the choice often seems to be transplantation or a lifetime of dialysis.
My experience shows there is another way.