Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: The Open Heart

Category: Inspiration

The Open Heart is a very inspiring book given to me recently by a priest, Father R.B. Williams, of San Antonio. Father R.B. married my wife and I twenty-three years ago and has remained a dear friend ever since. He has worked as a medical and law school chaplain at several universities around the country, including Tulane where I first met him. Of the many books he has given me through the years, this is certainly my favorite.

The Open Heart, Stories of Hope, Healing and Happiness is a truly inspiring book I recommend to all people in health care. It is written by a world renowned heart surgeon, Lester R. Sauvage, M.D. and twelve of his patients. Each of the twelve patients give their own personal testimony about their hopeless case and how he extended their lives with his skills, and more so, with his faith. He somehow empowered each of them to reconnect to their personal faith in a healing God. The way he talks to his patients and his amazing dedication (always going the extra mile for each patient) was truly an inspiration to me. I was blessed to have a mentor similar to Dr. Sauvage. He was my dad, Dr. George Prather, who practiced medicine for fifty years. He also had a profound dedication and deep abiding faith which inspired all of his patients.

Dr. Sauvage's three part spiritual action plan is a simple and effective guide we might all follow in our medical practices. His plan is (1) embrace each day to the fullest, (2) talk to God and listen, and (3) serve God by serving humanity.
Embracing each day to the fullest. Dr. Sauvage and his patients remind us to tell our loved ones they are precious to us. Reach out and try to live the life you feel God is calling you to. To paraphrase Mother Theresa "what matters is the good you can do today and the love with which you do it." Remember that each day is a dynamic journey to a greater destiny if you are guided by serving God. True peace and happiness comes by connecting with God and his precious plan. In this way, you can reach out and embrace each day to the fullest because you are a part of something much larger than yourself.

Talk to God and listen. God is love and God is a mystery. Some people, who have had close encounters with physical death such as Dr. Sauvage's twelve patients, felt God encouraging them to go forth. They were convinced God wanted them to survive their heart surgery to go on serving their loved ones or their special missions. We should all slow down and talk to God in a very personal way, opening ourselves to his Holy Spirit. Each individual prays in his own unique way. The important thing is to make prayer time a real priority in your life.

Serve God by serving humanity. Dr. Sauvage's forty year career has been an amazing life of serving humanity. He continues, now retired from surgery, to do world class research to cure heart disease. True peace and joy is found in losing ourselves in service to others. Whether we are a laborer or a company president is not as important as whether we find joy in our daily service. Knowing that we have done our best gives great comfort and satisfaction. Developing our own special talents to the fullest, becoming the person we are capable of , and sharing those talents in serving others lovingly is an absolute guarantee for happiness. The ripple effect of our service is profound. We can all make the world a better place with our simple small steps in the right direction.

Dr. Sauvage always gave each of his patients an inspirational card with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi ("Lord make me an instrument of your peace," etc.). It is a pretty good reminder that we are all instruments of God's peace, and as we follow that task, we help to spread His peace and love. I highly recommend everyone in the health care profession read this inspiring book. The publisher of The Open Heart by Lester R. Sauvage, M.D. is Heath Communications, Inc. which can be reached at 1-800-441-5569.