“I do not know how it was my faith sustained me. The doctors and nurses would ask how my faith was doing, and it meant so much to know they genuinely cared. Because of my diabetes, I wasn’t supposed to have any children… but, with Joseph, God blessed me with four.”
Already facing a challenging time in her life, Amber Allen learned her unborn son was not developing properly. Below, Amber shares her experience at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.
Loma Linda University Health holds a very special place in my heart.
The caring atmosphere of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital has blessed me for many years. As a child, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the hospital. My children were cared for at the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and I was at my father’s bedside in the Loma Linda University Medical Center.
When my father passed away, the doctors and nurses at the Medical Center were gentle and caring, which meant a great deal to me during such a difficult season. In the months following my dad’s passing, my doctor began to tell me something was wrong with our unborn son, Joseph. I placed my faith in God and in his leading, but it was difficult to experience the loss of my father and then to hear something was not right with my baby boy.
The doctors told me Joseph’s eyes were not developing properly. I am a nursing student and an employee at the Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, but I had never heard of anything like this. The doctors also told me he had syndactyly, which meant his fingers were fused together. It was hard to understand, but I knew no matter what problems or challenges we might face with Joseph, we would love him unconditionally.
As the pregnancy grew closer to term, my blood sugar levels became erratic and I had a build-up of fluid. Around 33 weeks, they told me it was time to deliver Joseph.
I was still recovering and Joseph was three days old when I asked one of the student doctors if she knew anything about Joseph’s eyes. She told me his eyelids were sealed shut, and his eyes did not develop. I got up and went to see Joseph in the NICU. When I walked back to my room afterwards, I felt broken. I fell to my knees in my hospital room and cried out to God. “You give vision,” I prayed. “You restore sight to the blind. Please let my child see.”
It was so difficult. My husband and I loved Joseph and we wanted him to have what everyone else around him had: vision. I prayed asking God to bless Joseph and give him eyes so he could see.
A few hours later, some of my best friends came to visit me. As we walked into the NICU, the nurse said, “Your baby opened his eyes!” I looked at her and said, “What did you say? They told me he did not have eyes.” She shook her head. “No,” she smiled. “He has eyes.”
I rushed over to him and saw that his eyes were open. My friends were ecstatic. “Look, Amber, look! His eyes are open!” I called my mom and my husband and told them it was true, God gives sight to the blind.
However, our struggles did not end then. The doctors assessed Joseph’s vision and told me he could not see. My new prayer became, “God, you gave him eyes. Now I ask you to let him see.”
Joseph was diagnosed with Fraser’s Syndrome, a condition with a survival rate of about 12%. He ended up staying in the NICU for almost two months, receiving intense, yet excellent care. When we took Joseph home he still struggled with his vision. I would play with him, showing him toys that could light up. His eyes would struggle to track them or even to look in the right direction. One day, when he was five months old, our family was at church and there was an altar call. I took Joseph forward and the pastors laid their hands on him and prayed over him, asking God for healing and strength.
That night, I was playing with Joseph. I held a light-up toy above his face and moved it around. To my surprise, he reached out and took the toy from my hand. I immediately grabbed another toy and held it above him. Instantly, he reached out and took it from my hand. I began jumping up and down. I called my mom and told her, “He can see! He can see! God gave him eyes, and he can see with them.”
The Inland Regional Center (IRC), a center that works locally with people who are developmentally disabled, came to assess Joseph at our house a few weeks ago. One of the teachers said she has been with the IRC for 25 years, and when she read Joseph’s chart before she came, she was expecting an ill baby. When she walked into our house and saw him, though, she was shocked. He was active and happy, and was accomplishing all of the tasks they asked him to do.
There is so much Joseph can do. He can walk, talk and use his hands in ways that still astonish me. He is a beautiful, healthy boy.
It is thanks to generous donors like you that Loma Linda University Health has been able to continue its mission. Your gifts ensure that patients like my son will continue receiving the best care possible.
Your generosity means so much. Thank you.