Transplant Patient Ministers During Hospital Stay
Story by LaTasha Hewitt
Reginald Alexander, publishing associate at the Allegheny East Conference and a member of the Pine Forge (Pa.) church, has had cardiac sarcoidosis— a heart condition—since he was young. After two pacemakers, complete heart blockage and having limited cardiac output, his doctor declared that he needed a heart transplant. Alexander checked into the John Hopkins Hospital (Md.) in September 2018 to await a transplant.
Although he was placed at the top of the donor list, the process didn’t come without its challenges. The heart-monitoring equipment he was required to wear, and the 22 hours per day of confinement to his hospital room, proved to be challenging for Alexander. Instead of sulking, however, he chose to continue to do the same activity he did prior to his health challenges— minister to others.
To chronicle his experience of awaiting a heart, Alexander started a Facebook group, “Reginald Alexander: My Health Journey.” He used the social media platform to not only share his story but also to encourage others. In addition, he used the forum to advocate for other transplant patients on his floor, praying with them and soliciting the prayers of his Facebook followers on their behalf. “Advocating on behalf of others is what helped me stay in heaven’s atmosphere. My faith was deepened, and it helped me stay positive in my own situation,” shares Alexander.
After Facebook groups such as “Sarcoidosis is Real” shared a few of his video posts, his social media following grew. “It was refreshing and motivating to know that people were interceding on my behalf, taking my case to the throne of grace,” Alexander says.
Alexander also made an impact on the medical staff, receiving letters from doctors and nurses. Many were even curious about his beliefs, asking him questions like, “What’s the difference between Sunday and Saturday worship?” When he had the strength, Alexander took the time to open the Bible and share God’s Word with anyone who would listen. He also distributed books, including Ellen White’s Bible Answers compilation, to some of the patients and nurses.
Three months after checking into the hospital, a viable heart was found, and he completed the transplant. There were a few complications, however, and “the journey became more difficult after the transplant. At one point, the doctors did not think I was going to make it through the surgery or survive after,” remembers Alexander.
But survive he did, and as soon as he was able to speak again, he reached out to his Facebook family, thanking God for seeing him through.