Baby Emma Gets a New Heart

  Emma post-surgery in the hospital.

Emma post-surgery in the hospital.

For every child who comes through our ministry, we have one long-term hope: not just a new home, but a new heart. We want to see children rescued not just from abandonment, but ultimately from sin through Jesus.

Little “Emma” may get two new hearts in the bargain: both spiritual and physical. She was born last February and abandoned at birth, alongside her twin brother “Ethan.” While Ethan was perfectly healthy, Emma faced life-threatening heart defects.  

But God was orchestrating a series of events to give the twins both medical care and a family. Scott and Gabi are a missionary couple who moved to Romania from the U.S. with their six children in 2014. (For Gabi it was a return: she had been born and raised in Communist Romania.) A central part of the couple’s ministry is helping children with heart defects get treatment.

Early this year, Scott and Gabi were guest speakers at a Romanian church, sharing about their medical ministry. Our social worker, Dana, was in the congregation, and she wasted no time in telling them about baby Emma.

Gabi and Scott began to look into the logistics of treating Emma’s heart condition. They learned that the only way to do so was to become the twins’ foster parents. Our staff got to work, and miraculously, all the pieces fell into place to get them approved. But doctors and social workers gave them severe warnings. “This baby will die,” one cardiologist told them flatly. State officials added to the dire scenario: “If this baby dies in your custody, you will face an investigation,” they told Gabi. “You will likely go to jail.”

Fighting for Emma

  Gabi with both babies, shortly after bringing them home.

Gabi with both babies, shortly after bringing them home.

Undaunted, Scott and Gabi trusted God, taking the six-week-old babies home. “For the first two weeks they were not responsive at all,” Gabi remembers. “They just stared at the walls.” Soon, however, they began to recover from the effects of the institution.

Meanwhile, Scott and Gabi were busy seeking treatment for Emma—and running into closed doors. The medical ministry with which they work, which is based in Israel, delivered the bad news that Emma’s case was too complicated for treatment there. Next, the couple found a surgeon in Budapest, Hungary, who was willing to try—for a price. An initial estimate came in at $21,000.

At this point, our Romanian director let us know about the family's financial need. But she also told us that their conviction as missionaries has always been to operate on faith, after the example of George Mueller. They don't ask for money; they simply pray and wait for God's provision.

So we shared about Emma's need as a prayer request on Facebook. That post caught the eye of Sarah, a young mother from California who supports Romania Reborn. "The post wasn't even asking for money," she recalls. "But sometimes you see a need, and you just know that the Holy Spirit is saying: 'You're the one who's supposed to provide for this.'" After speaking with her husband, they wrote to us and offered to cover the entire cost.

God Provides Again

But there were still more hurdles to overcome. First, the Hungarian doctors delayed the surgery for weeks. Then, they raised the price to $35,000—which they required up front, in cash. "After that appointment, we came home somewhat discouraged," Gabi admits. "But I knew God had something better for us."

  Immediately after her life-saving surgery.

Immediately after her life-saving surgery.

Although they'd been told Emma was too ill to travel, they contacted an American heart surgeon through a mutual friend. Within days, that surgeon had invited Emma to be treated at his hospital in Florida—at no charge. Sarah and her husband gladly agreed to redirect their financial gift to cover travel expenses. The local child welfare office expedited the family's approval to travel. Eight days later, the family was on a plane to the U.S.

Once they got to Florida, the family realized how close Emma had been to death on a daily basis. The first day in the hospital, her blood oxygen level temporarily dipped to 5%. Hospital staff panicked. They moved the surgery up, operating just days later.

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Today, Emma is recovering and gaining weight quickly. She'll require a second surgery eventually, but the future looks bright.  "We believe she will grow up to become a zealous woman for the Lord, bringing many souls into the kingdom," Gabi says. After what we've seen, we don't doubt it.

Prayer Points:

Praise God for His provision, and ask His blessing on those who gave for this need (Sarah, the surgeon, and two other smaller donors).

Pray that Emma will continue to get stronger, and that her future surgery will be completely successful with no further need of surgery.