Peter McAvoy, East Waterboro, Maine

Total eligible bills
$207,738
Provider discounts
$49,505
Total bills shared
$158,233

From the March 2020 issue of Heartfelt magazine.

I found out about Christian Healthcare Ministries from a deacon at my church. He knew that I was without healthcare and recommended that I look into the ministry. After researching it, I joined CHM’s Gold and Brother’s Keeper programs. I didn’t think that I would experience an illness and incur over $125,000 in bills, but that’s what most people think until it happens.

In August 2018 I was always exhausted. I slept a lot, and then I slept a lot more. I barely had the energy to get out of bed. Finally, on Aug. 21, I asked my wife, Marion, to take me to the emergency room.

The doctors took a CT scan of my abdomen, which showed that my spleen and kidneys were infected. I was admitted to the hospital and given various antibiotics. They then called an infection specialist who did more testing. He found that my liver and heart were also infected with what’s called infective endocarditis.

With four of my organs infected, the doctors didn’t know if I would live much longer. My church family provided spiritual support by praying for my wife and me.

I needed open heart surgery to clear my heart of the infection. The hospital where I was being treated didn’t have adequate resources, so I was transferred to a different hospital.

My family and friends continued to pray for me and the doctors performing my surgery. Doctors placed a new aortic valve in my heart; it’s the valve between the heart and the circulatory system’s main artery. They then performed a bypass and placed patches on my heart where the infection had overtaken it.

Afterward, the surgeon came to see us. He told us that he felt the presence of someone else in the room with him as he worked on me. It could have only been Jesus. We spent the rest of the day in awe; the power of prayer and the love of our Savior is so very strong.

I stayed at the hospital for the rest of the week. When I went home, my wife, Marion was instructed to give me antibiotics through my IV. A nurse visited periodically to monitor my improvement. By December I’d progressed to the point of needing no more visits. (Editor’s note: Under the Gold level, the first 45 visits of home healthcare are eligible for sharing.)

Two weeks after my surgery, I went to get the stitches taken out. While there, Marion fainted and was taken to the emergency room. Much to our surprise, she needed a pacemaker, which she got two months later. She is doing very well.

Though experiencing those two medical events was stressful, God helped us the entire time. He was teaching us that He gives us only what we can handle, and that, through it all, He will never leave us alone. One of the ways He helped us was through CHM members.

Our medical bills added up to a staggering $200,000 and we sought discounts. CHM staff also negotiated reductions on our behalf. Our collective efforts totaled about $50,000. It was God’s providence that I had joined Brother’s Keeper. Had I not, my wife and I would have been responsible for nearly $33,000 (the amount above CHM’s $125,000 maximum per illness). But instead, CHM members shared the entire $158,000 of remaining charges.

The CHM staff was great about explaining what I needed to do. I could tell they truly cared about me. Some of them even sent me cards of encouragement.

A year later, I am feeling well. Looking back on this experience, I can see God’s hand through it all. One person told me that “God is not finished with you yet.” I believe that and thank Him every day. God has used these incidents to teach me even more about His awe-inspiring agape love—His unconditional love in the highest form. I have faith that He will continue to walk with me, no matter where my life may go from here.

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