October 6, 2015
Leonardo had his first fainting spell when he was in his mid-teens. It wasn’t often but every once in a while he would faint. His family took him to the best doctors in Aguas Calientes but the diagnosis was always the same. Leonardo was a healthy boy and the fainting spells were unexplained.
At age 22, now Elder A. was serving in the Mexico City Southeast mission. He had been here for 3 weeks when his companion, Elder G. called deeply concerned. He found Elder A. on the floor, right after a fainting spell. He was taken to the hospital where the doctors started to rule out things. All were sure he had a seizure until the test showed nothing. In a few days he was released, but he went home wearing a 24 hour heart monitor. As a last resort, the doctors chose to test this.
The results were a little shocking. During the 24 hour period, Elder A. had not passed out. Still there were times that his heart would stop beating for 8 seconds. It was amazing that he was not fainting during those 8 second stretches. How long did his heart go without beating when he did faint? It spoke to his youth and strength to keep going even though his heart did not beat for 8 seconds.
The first hospital said he needed a pacemaker. We send missionaries home if they need a hernia surgery – he would have to go home. However, his little home area did not have the medical care that we do in Mexico City. He would stay on his mission.
With excellent cardiologists he underwent months of tests. 22 year old's shouldn’t need pacemakers. Could medication work for a while? After tests, and trying new techniques, he continued to faint. He went to the hospital for one more test done under anesthesia. If he failed the test he would immediately be given a pacemaker. He failed the test.
Elder G., his companion has been a champion through this. He would comment that his companion came “batteries not included.” He would watch him and try and prevent him from being hurt when he fainted. He argued with doctors and hospitals trying to get the best care. He truly became his “dad.”
Elder A’s parents have sat on the edge of their seat for months. His mom has a bag packed in case she needs to jump on a bus and get here. They agonized as the surgery went longer than expected. We hope they have now found peace.
Elder A. now sits in our home for a week. He has to rest. And then, batteries included, he will go back out to the mission field. He is so ready and would not think of throwing in the towel. His physical life has been changed – new batteries every 10 years, no contact sports, and several unpleasant scars. However, this will not stop him from his appointed duty. He will be more ready than ever before to walk the streets of Mexico and share the gospel message. Can anyone doubt the Lord’s hand in this young man’s life?