Life is precious. Sometimes it takes a serious happening to make us more aware of its worth.
At the Wildlife Dinner on March 7, Fred Craft spoke about his battle with dialysis and his long-waiting period for a kidney transplant. He experienced kidney failure in November 2014, and had to start dialysis three days a week a month later.
“I am so blessed to be here, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “Because if it wasn’t for the Lord and prayers, I wouldn’t be here.”
Craft shared that he experienced a lot of pain and got hooked on opioid medicine. He states, however, that “God was with me the whole time.”
He continued, “I wandered away from God several years ago, but when this experience came upon me, I found out just how much I needed God. There are people in this room that prayed for me and churches that put me on prayer chains. I appreciate that so much because God heard every one of those prayers.”
Crat said he often dropped on his knees to say, “Lord help me.” He had intense sickness and pain, until he got the transplant.
There was a three to five-year wait before he could get a transplant and he was over three years waiting. Craft said the four hour dialysis was taking a toll on his body. “I’d have to go home and lay down for three or four hours before I could get up to do anything,” he said.
On November 8, he got the long-awaited call from his caseworker. The University of Virginia had a kidney.
Craft continued with emotion, “I had so many complications because I was on blood thinner and blood pressure problems. They worked on me from Saturday night until Tuesday morning before they felt they could even do the surgery.”
That Tuesday was his birthday.
They gave him much numbing medication to deal with the pain level.
An hour after surgery, an ultrasound was conducted to make sure the flow was working properly.
“He didn’t scan it but in about 10 seconds, he dropped the tool and went out the door, bringing back the surgeons,” Craft explained before adding that he was bleeding inside but they couldn’t go back to give him more anesthesia.
Craft shared that he asked for a minute of privacy and called Pastor Law to pray for him. Law was driving, but pulled over and prayed.
Craft was awake, but numb while they did the second surgery. At the same time, he figured out that they were hooking him up to life support.
“I was bleeding to death and didn’t realize it,” he said.
The longer he laid in bed, the weaker he said he got, almost to the point of passing out. He looked at the machine that he had become accustomed to reading and saw the numbers go backward, which wasn’t good.
He heard the doctor tell the staff, twice, “We’re going to lose this man.” Craft remembering said, “I closed my eyes and called on the Lord and when I opened my eyes up, they were still frantic.”
“I closed my eyes again and I saw the most amazing thing. It was like looking down a hallway. I could see two huge columns and an opening with the prettiest blue sky I had ever seen. I opened my eyes and looked at them working at me, realizing I was dying,” Craft stated before adding, “I closed my eyes again and got to see the beautiful blue sky. So, I relaxed and resigned myself to leave. I had the most amazing peace and calm and I still have it today. It hasn’t gone away. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”
However, God wasn’t done with Craft on earth. “Finally, the machine started working and fast-tracking my blood. I could feel the difference,” he said.
Craft noted the calmness among the surgeons.
He continued, “The next time I closed my eyes the vision was gone, and I knew I had turned the corner and the Lord wasn’t going to take me away.”
Craft had an all-day blood transfusion the next day. “At the end, they had stuck so many holes in me I looked like I had been shot with fine shot because there was so much bruising,” he said with a laugh.
Because of the severity of the surgery, Craft said that he took that opportunity to tell several doctors that came to check on him, his story and his experience.
“It’s about prayers and what God can do to answer prayers,” Craft said. “When you need Him, call on Him and He will answer. The Lord saw fit to leave me here. I was on 54 pills a day and now I only take 12. I thank God every day and don’t take life for granted.”
Craft encourages others to make sure they ask people who are in good standing with the Lord to pray for them. “It’s like the Bible says in the book of James, ‘the elders anointed me with oil and prayed over me,’” he said.
“I was reckless and rowdy during a space in time and this brought me back to the Lord. When I started getting back in touch with Him, He was right where I left Him,” Craft explained. “I am so thankful He gave me a second chance. I could have died on my birthday, but instead I got an amazing spiritual birth.”
Craft stressed that it matters that one knows where their soul is going when they take their last breath.
“If you got loved ones who are sick, go and pray for them,” Craft concluded. “The Lord won’t allow you to carry any more of a burden than you can carry. Before you go to bed, ask yourself, ‘Is the Lord proud of me for this week’s work? Am I doing what the Lord will be pleased with?’ and if you can do that, and lay your head on the pillow but if you have a weight or burden on you, find someone to pray for you. This world will load you up but all you have to do is to look up, He’s waiting for you.”