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Moments That Matter: Charles M's Story

Moments That Matter: Charles M's Story

A Miraculous Recovery

When Charles and Kristia M. promised “for better or for worse” when they married seven years ago, they well understood the “better” part of their vows. However, neither knew that “worse” would come before their first anniversary.

“That July, I became very sick and delirious, so Kristia drove me to the emergency room at Newton Medical Center,” says Charles, now 76, of Hardyston. The emergency room staff and specialists worked quickly to discover the cause: a rare and serious E. coli infection possibly caused by food. It was attacking his digestive tract, and more.

“His kidneys and three other internal organs had already shut down when he arrived,” says Lakshmi Sodagum, MD, a nephrologist, or specialist in kidney care, who is on the medical staff of Newton Medical Center. “He was in shock and critically ill. He would not be here today if he had not come in then.”

During emergency surgery, Sarwan Kahlam, MD, a gastroenterologist (who specializes in diseases of the digestive system) for Newton Medical Center, repaired the internal damage. But without better kidney function, it would be difficult for Charles’ body to heal.

I could tell everyone really, really cared about Charles and the whole family. Nurses always kept me updated, letting me know what was happening.

Kristia M, Wife of Charles M.

Staff at Newton monitored Charles closely in intensive care, gave him a total of 14 blood transfusions and waited.

 “Both kidneys were in such bad shape that it would be difficult for them to heal on their own,” Kristia says. “They thought it was highly likely that he would need dialysis or a transplant.”

Highest Levels of Care

During those first days at Newton, Kristia learned that family, church members and even staff there were praying for him. His pastor became a regular visitor, as did the Rev. Randy Parks, chaplain and manager of spiritual care for the hospital.

“For patients and their loved ones who want us to visit, we help them see the hand of God in their rough times,” Parks says. “That can be an important part of their recovery.”

“I could tell everyone really, really cared about Charles and the whole family,” Kristia says. “Nurses always kept me updated, letting me know what was happening.” 

What happened was unexpected.

“Charles's kidneys were functioning only at around 9%,” Dr. Sodagum says. “Usually at 10%, you need dialysis or a transplant. But then his kidneys began to improve.”

 “That was the miracle part,” Charles says. With kidneys better able to do their job, his health and strength slowly improved. By day 11, he was able to return home.

After such a very serious illness, recovery took a while. But today, Charles has resumed his active  lifestyle, and his kidneys are working fine. 

“I can run again, shoot baskets, snow ski, golf – everything I want,” he says, smiling. “Considering how sick I was, this is a miracle. It was a great partnership between science, everyone at Newton Medical Center and God.”