A Heart Mended by Faith

By Linda Thompson

/files/chcc images 2 - about us/Unfolding/Joyce_Dorsey.jpgWhen you meet Joyce Dorsey, you come away thinking that she is filled with the joy of the Lord. When you hear her story you know it to be true.

For years, Joyce was a heavy smoker, drinking gallons of coffee each day. Her high blood pressure and overweight body lead to a steady decline in the condition of her heart. By 1986 she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and she knew she had to change her lifestyle if she wanted to live to see her grandchildren.

Under her doctor’s care and guidance, she quit smoking and began drinking decaf, but in 1994 she still fell victim to a heart attack. The condition of her heart continued to decline. She experienced countless physiological maladies, including a fluid build-up, enlarged heart, irregular heart beat and severe mitral valve prolapse. She was constantly in and out of the hospital.

In 2008, she moved to California from Pennsylvania to focus on her health and was blessed to find a wonderful group of doctors. She was told she needed a heart valve repair or replacement, but the doctors determined she was not a good candidate for that procedure. A heart transplant was the only viable option.

In February of 2010, she was sent to Cedars Sinai for evaluation and consideration for their transplant list. Joyce is quick to point out that there are two different transplant lists at Cedars. The ‘A List’ includes individuals who are hospitalized and on life-support waiting for a transplant. The ‘B List’ is for patients who are functioning, but whose conditions are tenuous and the only way to improve their conditions is transplant. On July 15, 2010 at 10:20 a.m. Joyce became #49 on the Transplant B List.

She heard the word “transplant” and remembers very little else. As a mother, her thoughts immediately went to her children and how they would accept the news. As a child of God, her thoughts then went to the One who gives her strength – the One who holds the power to heal and to change circumstances that are beyond human reach. God was with her and it was through His grace that she began to feel the peace she needed to reassure her family. She was not afraid.

The doctors estimated 3-6 months before a heart would be available and she was required to stay within 2 hours of the hospital until then. And through it all, there was peace. Her faith told her that God was in charge. If it was His will that she should receive a transplant, she trusted him to provide a perfect match. And if it was His will that she should keep the original heart He gave her, He could heal her. She remembers telling God that she had really become quite attached to the heart He gave her at birth, but if it was His will that she give it up, then so be it.

By March of 2011, she was #1 on the Transplant B-List.

She needed to lose weight to remain a good candidate for transplant, so she began walking and changed her diet from the ‘fried everything’ she grew up on to include more fruits and vegetables. Before long she was walking 4 miles a day and she had learned a whole new way to cook and eat. She had to do her part to be as fit as possible. Anything beyond that would be up to God.

Her cardiologist had been checking her heart every three months.  Instead of seeing a decline in her condition,
her heart began to improve. Improvement is good, but improvement to the point of being removed from the transplant list completely … well, that’s a miracle.

By July of 2011, only 4 months after moving to #1 on the list, Joyce’s heart was so strong she was removed from the Transplant List entirely. Impossible? No.

“With God, all things are possible.”

If you ask her, she will tell you, “God is still in the business of miracles. Never stop praying and believe that He can heal you.”

Joyce was in Pennsylvania visiting family a few weeks ago encouraging them to believe in the power of God’s healing hand. She said she likes to think that when she is there, the Devil is saying, “Oh no! Now she’s in Pennsylvania!” Joyce continues to encourage family members and others struggling with physical and emotional health.