Three years ago, our son Landen was born with a severe heart condition. We were shocked and devastated when doctors told us that he was not expected to live to his first birthday. Our little baby boy had a hard fight ahead of him.
To symbolize the courage he would need, we put a stuffed lion in his bed and gave him the middle name Lion. To us, the lion stood for strength, courage and hope, all of which we knew our son had, and would need in his fight to survive.
Doctors discovered that Landen’s heart condition was caused by a rare disorder called LEOPARD syndrome. By this time, our little Lion was in end-stage heart failure. Day after day, we saw him getting worse and there was nothing we could do. It was heart-breaking.
Our son was so sick that they wanted us to take him home that Monday. There wasn’t anything more they could do.
My husband gave me great advice that I will always remember and live by; he said to “turn it over to the Lord.” This was a hard thing to hear and even harder to do. We faced a difficult choice: make him comfortable at home to enjoy the little time left, or keep him in the hospital and try for a long-shot heart transplant. We listed him for a transplant.
I learned through this experience how the atonement was more than just suffering for our sins; Christ suffered in place of our suffering. I learned a completely different meaning of the atonement and how it applies in our lives.
On Saturday we heard that they had found a donor for our son, but it was an incompatible, high-risk heart. We asked for a couple of minutes and went into our son’s hospital room and knelt in prayer as a family to ask if this was the right heart for our son. Before my husband could even finish, tears were running down our faces and we knew this was the heart our son needed.
On Mother’s Day, at 3 months old, Landen was given a new heart. Another little baby, fighting for her life, had lost her battle. Along with this gift from heaven, her brave family sent us the stuffed animal that she had held onto all of those months. It was a little lamb. We now say “Our strong lion has the heart of a little lamb.”
Three amazing years later, we are still grateful for every day we have with our son. He has 8 doctors, multiple therapists, a feeding tube, a bleeding disorder, and many medications . . . but I am grateful every day for him and the lessons he teaches me.
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