This is a book of miracles—medical events witnessed by leading physicians for which there is no reasonable medical explanation, or, if there is, the explanation itself is extraordinary. These dramatic first-person essays detail spectacular serendipities, impossible cures, breathtaking resuscitations, extraordinary awakenings, and recovery from unimaginable disasters. Still other essays give voice to cases in which the physical aspects were less dramatic than the emotional aspects, yet miraculous and transformational for everyone involved. Positive impacts left in the wake of even the gravest of tragedies, profound triumphs of heart and spirit.
Preeminent physicians in many specialties, including deans and department heads on the faculties of the top university medical schools in the country describe, in everyday language and with moving testimony, their very personal reactions to these remarkable clinical experiences.
Among the extraordinary cases poignantly recounted by the physicians witnessing them:
A priest visiting a hospitalized patient went into cardiac arrest on the elevator, which opened up on the cardiac floor, right at the foot of the cardiac specialist, at just the right moment.
A tiny premature baby dying from irreversible lung disease despite the most intensive care who recovered almost immediately after being taken from his hospital bed and placed on his mother's chest.
President John F. Kennedy's son Patrick, who died shortly after birth, and whose disease eventually led to research that saved generations of babies.
A nine-year-old boy who was decapitated in a horrific car accident but survived without neurological damage.
A woman who conceived and delivered a healthy baby—despite having had both of her fallopian tubes surgically removed.
A young man whose only hope for survival was a heart transplant, but just at the moment he developed a potentially fatal complication making a transplant impossible, his own heart began healing itself.
A teenage girl near death after contracting full-blown rabies who became the first patient ever to recover from that disease after an unexpected visit by Timothy Dolan, the man who would go on to become the Archbishop of New York.
A Manhattan window-washer who fell 47 stories—and not only became the only person ever to survive a fall from that height, but went on to make a full recovery.
Miracles We Have Seen is a book of inspiration and optimism, and a compelling glimpse into the lives of physicians—their humanity and determined devotion to their patients and their patients' families. It reminds us that what we don't know or don't understand isn‘t necessarily cause for fear, and can even be reason for hope
About the Author
Harley Rotbart, MD, has been a nationally renowned pediatric specialist, parenting expert, speaker and educator for over three decades. He is professor and Vice Chair Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado. He is the author of numerous medical and scientific publications, and books for lay audiences including No Regrets Parenting and 940 Saturdays. Dr. Rotbart has been named to Best Doctors in America every year since 1996, as well as receiving numerous other national and local awards for research, teaching, and clinical work. He serves on the advisory boards of Parents magazine and Parents.com, and is a consultant to national and local media outlets. He is a regular contributor to Parents and the New York Times.
"Miracles We Have Seen opens a window into the complex world of the art and the science of medicine for all to see the compassionate miracles dispensed there. Take a good look . . . you will be inspired!"—Richard Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States
"A beautifully written collection from physicians witnessing the mystery and power of the human body and spirit in the most extreme circumstances. This is a unique contribution that will inspire and edify." —Jerome Groopman, MD, Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, New Yorker staff writer, and co-author with Dr. Pamela Hartzband of the New York Times bestseller Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You
"A remarkable volume of essays detailing prolonged effort and novel therapies leading to miraculous outcomes. Empathic care, co-produced by extraordinary teams of medical professionals, their patients and families. Every page speaks 'gratitude.' These stories will contribute powerfully to cures, and equally to cures of burn-out and despair." —Richard I. Levin, MD, President and CEO, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation; Emeritus Professor of Medicine, New York and McGill Universities
"As a witness to one of the miracles recounted in this uplifting book, I welcome Dr. Rotbart's extraordinary collection of compelling testimonies from leading physicians. Take a look, and have your faith in God—and in his agents of healing, doctors—renewed!" —Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
"At a time when the labor of the ideal physician is described as routinized and industrialized—standard work leading to standard outcomes—these stories inspire. These wise physicians remind us that we are at our best when we are open to the surprises, the graces, and even the miracles that occur when we are present for the ill." —Abraham M. Nussbaum, MD, MTS, Chief Education Officer, Denver Health, Associate Director of Medical Education, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, and author of The Finest Traditions of My Calling: One Physician's Search for the Renewal of Medicine
"Deeply moving and eloquently written, this remarkable collection reminds us how the art and science of medicine intersect with good luck, coincidence, and the unfathomable. For physicians, these essays call to mind our own stories that inspired us toward the healing of our patients." —Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, past President, American Medical Association
"Doctors tell the human side of medicine in these stories—revealing the heart and soul that go into truly 'caring' care." —Jimmie C. Holland, MD, Wayne E. Chapman Chair in Psychiatric Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, author of The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty
"For patients, their families, and all the rest of us, Miracles We Have Seen is a welcome reminder that even the most dire diagnoses can have happy endings, thanks to the inspiring dedication of doctors." —Diane Debrovner, Deputy Editor, Parents Magazine
"If you need a dose of beauty, hope and encouragement, you'll find it in this collection of essays from doctors on medical miracles—things they've seen while practicing for which they have no explanation, or only an extraordinary one. It's a happy tears book (and all author proceeds go to charity)." —KJ Dell'Antonia, New York Times columnist and contributing editor; author, "How It's Done" blog
"In an age of technology and indifference, these remarkable essays inspire wonder, awe, and a sense of pride of being human. They demonstrate that the miracle of miracles is that they do happen when health professionals combine their medical skills with unrelenting devotion to the art of healing." —Bernard Lown, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, Emeritus Senior Medical Attending, Brigham and Women's Hospital, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (1961), recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1985) on behalf of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
"Miracles are all around, we just need to pause and be still, and recognize them. This book is a testament to the medical miracles that happen every day when skill, science, and spirituality meet." —Rev Mpho A Tutu van Furth, Executive Director, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, and co-author, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of Made for Goodness
"The art of medicine involves empathy and communicating with families in a very personal way. The science of medicine requires understanding how evidence from well-designed research transforms patient care. The vignettes in this book are at the interface between the art and science. They touch our human spirit in such a profound and inspirational way. This remarkable book shows the humility with which medicine should be practiced and how fortunate physicians are to have such meaningful experiences." —Stephen Berman, MD, past President, American Academy of Pediatrics; Director, Center for Global Health, Colorado School of Public Health; Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine and School of Public Health
"The drive to understand cause and effect is central to human nature. But so, too, is awe in the face of mystery, fate, and the ineffable. The kaleidoscopic collection of stories that fills this volume evokes such awe. Miracles of life and death viewed through the lens of medical science make our lives richer for all that cannot be explained, for the wonder of that which is just beyond our grasp." —Larry Kramer, President, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, former Dean, Stanford Law School
"The remarkable stories from Miracles We Have Seen will stay with you long after you have put the book down. You will be moved to tears and share in the joy, and sometimes sorrow, experienced by the dedicated doctors who deal with life-and-death issues every day. Modern medicine goes far beyond technology; it is the human factor and the personal relationships that make all the difference. The resilience of the patients, the determination of the doctors and their medical teams, and the serendipitous timing of events that can unexpectedly change an outcome will leave you with a sense of awe and optimism." —Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and creator of The Success Principles Series
"These fascinating and inspiring stories reinforce the remarkable things that medical care can do, as well as what is out of our control as clinicians. They remind us of the limits of our knowledge, just as they keep us in awe of the unpredictability of human illness and health." —Steven E. Weinberger, MD, Executive Vice President and CEO, American College of Physicians
"These powerful and true stories by physicians offer hope from where faith intersects with science and real healing begins." —Jeffrey J. Cain, MD, past President, American Academy of Family Physicians
"These stories are remarkable—surprising, inspiring, and full of joy and awe. The voices of these doctors remind us—as they remind themselves—of how much we have to learn from the people we care for, and of the importance of acknowledging the elements of good luck, science, care, coincidence, and wonder." —Perri Klass, MD, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, and Director, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University
"These stories by doctors who are true healers have moved me to tears and opened my heart. Each, like the great doctor-writer Chekhov, brings to medicine a sense of compassion, deep vulnerability, love and hope for those who suffer, and the ability to acknowledge that human life is a precious gift." —Ruth Behar, author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys, and the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan
"This is one of the best books I have ever read. The stories in this book will make you want to cry, cheer, embrace, pause and reflect on the miracles that occur each and every day. What a wonderful gift to all of us, captured in this timeless treasure." —Michelle B. Riba, MD, MS, past President, American Psychiatric Association; Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan; Director, PsychOncology Program, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
"To practice medicine means that we physicians keep trying to get better. The leading edge for new treatment approaches sometimes emerges from collections of inspiring case reports like these. Let us integrate the mysterious into medical scientific thinking by acknowledging that we are all part of a greater consciousness and that serendipity and synchronicity can highlight the way." —Bernard Beitman, MD, author of Connecting with Coincidence
"We read so many accounts of freak accidents and rare diseases bringing misery into the lives of people who deserve better. That is why it was so refreshing, so soul-restoring, to read these accounts of near tragedies that were prevented by human efforts, good will, and caring."—Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People and Nine Essential Things I've Learned About Life
Rotbart, an author, speaker, and pediatric specialist, has assembled a collection of essays from top medical professionals in various disciplines that showcase patient outcomes that have defied all expectations and, in many cases, scientific explanations. The essays are written with a blend of technical detail, which fully explains the miraculous events, and a conversational appeal to the unknown, which will engage readers who feel there is more to life than the empirically verifiable. Rotbart's compiled tales capture serendipitous timing, impossible cures, resuscitations, awakenings, moments when the spiritual and physical appear to touch, patients who have paid it forward, and many situations when good emerges from tragedy. Incredibly broad, both in the specialties represented and in the types of miraculous events described, this collection captures the hope that captivated those who experienced the events firsthand. While the technical details of some cases and the sheer volume of case studies may overwhelm the reader, the experiences and perspectives this book contains are sure to provide inspiration.