Prayer Before Heart Surgery – My PF Chang Experience
So you know…. I am not the best when it comes to organized religion.
I would say that I am more spiritual than religious. I do believe there are higher powers that tie us all together. And, I do believe the molecular meatpack, we call our body, offers us a special opportunity to create something meaningful during the seventy or eighty years that most of us traverse the Earth.
Okay. I just wanted to make sure you knew where I was coming from before I dive head-first into the topic of prayer before heart surgery.
RELIGION, PRAYER AND HEART SURGERY
Just before my aortic valve replacement, my Uncle Marc advised me that prayer before surgery was not a bad idea. Marc is more than an uncle to me. Marc is a mentor in many aspects of my life.
So, I took Marc’s suggestion and contemplated the notion of prayer, even religion, before my heart surgery. Looking for answers, I jumped onto Google and immediately learned a lot about the mystical approaches to securing positive surgical outcomes following cardiac procedures. As you might might imagine, the results of clinical studies were mixed on this topic.
Some of the studies suggested positive results of prayer before surgery:
- A 1993 Israeli survey following 10,000 civil servants for 26 years found that Orthodox Jews were less likely to die of cardiovascular problems than “nonbelievers.”
- A 1995 study from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., monitoring 250 people after open-heart surgery concluded that those who had religious connections and social support were 12 times less likely to die than those who had none.
Some of the studies suggest that prayer by third-parties prior to surgery was a non-factor and potentially more harmful:
- A 2006 Harvard study of more than 1,800 patients concluded that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of heart surgery patient complications.
GIVEN THE RESEARCH ON PRAYER BEFORE SURGERY, WHAT DID I DO?
As an optimist, I could not see the danger in personally engaging in prayer before surgery. I did not “get religion” prior to surgery but I did spend several quiet moments thinking great, big healthy thoughts for myself and those around me.
I even took it one step further… On the morning of my surgery, I requested that my close friends and family spend a few minutes channeling healthy thoughts to my heart.
I think some members of my support group got a head-start. The night before my heart valve surgery, I was having dinner with Robyn (my wife) at PF Changs Chinese restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California. Just as their famous Chinese lettuce wraps were served, a wave of goodness and warmth covered my chest.
Robyn noticed my face change. She asked me with some concern, “Are you alright?”
I responded, “Something very powerful is happening. I’m not sure how to explain it. But, I’m now ready for surgery. I know that everything is going to be alright. Oh yah, pass the hot sauce.”
Call me crazy… Call me weird… Call me nuts… Call me anything you like…
But, I will never forget that moment at PF Changs.
I hope that helps share some ideas about the concept of prayer before surgery. I was not going to post this because I know that religion can really turn people on and really turn people off. But, in the end, we are here to learn from each other about all things relating to heart valve surgery. That said, I hope you are okay with this blog.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.