Beating Covid to Hold Newborn in His Hands
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“I didn’t want to accept it, like no I can’t—I can’t go see him, this can’t be happening. I’m—I can’t be a single mom, I can’t—I can’t plan his funeral, we haven’t even talked about that,” says Faith Russell as she recounts her husband’s near-death battle with COVID-19.
Charlie and Faith Russell were preparing for the birth of their first child when Charlie became very sick. Doctors soon gave them the diagnosis they feared. “It’s like, what am I going to do, I’m pregnant, we’re about to have our baby, he’s got COVID,” described Faith. “And the doctor told me that we needed to quarantine from each other. I had to protect myself and protect our baby.”
Charlie’s health rapidly spiraled down, sending him to the emergency room multiple times. A few days before Faith was due to deliver their baby, he was admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU).
Faith says, “My husband is really sick, and when you’ve got a family member in the ICU, it’s not just a regular floor, it’s like—they’re really sick if they’re in the ICU, and I knew that as a nurse. [I was] just praying and hoping he wouldn’t have to go on the ventilator.”
Four days after Charlie was admitted to the ICU, Faith gave birth to their daughter Charity. Charlie was able to watch through an iPad. Though the moment was joyful, Faith had to face the reality that she was losing Charlie. Two weeks later, with oxygen levels dangerously low, Charlie was put on a ventilator. “A lot of times when they’re put on a ventilator, you don’t know if they’re going to come off it,” says Faith. “And I was just so worried and concerned, and so when I hung up that call, my first response was of course to just start pleading to God, but also to get other people to pray too. I realized, I can’t do this alone and that verse where it [says] two or more are gathered in My name, there I am among you, and I needed people to come alongside me.”
Rusty Russell, Charlie’s dad, remembers getting the news and describes how things unfolded, “They were talking about how we might lose him, using all this kind of language, it was very sobering—and then the medical staff told us that one person could come in and see Charlie. Well, we knew that meant, things were pretty dire, he may not make it, and that’s why they’re letting somebody in. And so, I flew up the next day to Nashville from Florida, and when I had to put my phone in airplane mode, I remember praying, ‘Lord, I pray that he would make it till I get there.’ I was concerned that I would turn my phone back on when we landed and find out that he hadn’t made it, it was just that dire."
Faith Russell says, “I’m 25 years old with a 2-week-old, and it was—it was hard, but the only thing I knew to do was just to pray and to give it to God, and my prayers weren’t pretty. They were literally just, ‘God, please don’t take my husband. I’m calling on the name that changes everything, God turn it around,' and I was just praying those words, ‘God, turn it around. God, turn it around.’”
“Many medical professionals told us, this is now in God’s hands,” says Rusty. “This is way beyond what medicine can solve and I said, ‘Lord, this is in Your hands. There is nothing we can do, we have done everything possible, we pray for him, we pray that he heals, but it is in Your hands. We trust in You.’”
Charlie had low oxygen levels, Pneumonia, he battled through Sepsis, temporary paralysis, and was in a medically-induced coma, but when his dad entered the room, so did signs of hope. “You know, Charlie was paralyzed and unconscious, but maybe his spirit knew like that his dad was there and you know he was like, I can fight a little longer,” describes Faith. “I think in that moment, that was one of the first times I felt like I could almost breathe. Like, ok, he might actually survive, he might actually live. Just praying and believing that this was the next step that he needed to heal and to come home to us.”
Little by little his oxygen levels rose until Charlie could breathe on his own. After 3 months in the hospital and against all odds he was released to go home.
“My joy is deeper now. Every time I pick up Charity, and I’m able to hug her, or I’m able to give Faith a kiss,” says Charlie Russell. “I thank God for giving me that moment. Every one of those moments is such a blessing for me.”
Faith says, “Just watching him [and] how he recovered, he went from having to re-learn how to walk, to today, he carries our daughter on his shoulders around our house. I’m just overcome with just gratitude, that God has done that in his life, that I still have my husband, and that Charity has her dad. Seeing Charity and Charlie’s bond, our daughter’s bond with him, just melts my heart, and I am so just grateful that God chose to spare his life so that he could be our daughter’s dad.”
Through this experience Charlie developed a renewed vision of what is truly important in his life.
Charlie describes what he’s learned, “This experience has taught me two things: First, it’s taught me that miracles are real. They happen in your real life. They can happen to you. God cares about your life, and your story. Secondly, it’s taught me about what really matters in life. Trying to chase after money, cars, things, physical things in this world—those things don’t matter as much as your family, the people you love, ministry, the things God has called you to do. Those things are what really matter in life, and being on your deathbed sort of helps you realize that.”
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