Over the past two years, Rick Brown has lost both his legs below the knee. But he sees it as a miracle.
In fact he sees it as a reminder of two miracles, both of which kept him alive.
“God is good,” Brown declared. “I am a true believer in God’s miracle-working power.”
In the summer of 2020, a doctor told Brown’s family that he was the sickest man in Princeton Baptist Medical Center.
He had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and his lungs were failing. Over the months that followed, Brown racked up a lot of numbers — 66 days on a ventilator, 19 days with an ECMO machine filtering his blood, 24 days in a medically induced coma, 36 days intubated, 43 days with a tracheostomy.
“I was just a sick man, and I was struggling for my life, with my family and church family praying for me,” said Brown, a member of Northside Baptist Church in Jasper.
His pastor, David Byrd, called every night at 9 to pray with Brown’s family, regardless of where he was. The church also was praying, but on the outside, it looked like things were only getting worse.
While sedated, Brown remembers asking God to take him, to end his suffering. His heart stopped three times while he was in the coma. Three times he remembers dreaming he was dead and going to see Jesus, but a barrier of some kind would push him back.
“The third time I said, ‘Well, Lord, whatever you’ve got for me to do, let’s get it done. Just bring me out of this,’” he remembered.
Around that time the doctor told Brown’s family that the medical team had done everything they could for him and asked if they wanted to stop life-saving measures. Each time his heart stopped, his condition worsened. But the family called the church’s prayer chain to plead on his behalf. Byrd remembers driving to the hospital, parking, laying his hand on the outside wall and crying out to God to save Brown’s life.
The news spread fast around the county, and churches all over the area began to pray. And his condition began to turn around.
“With the prayers, God’s hand just reached into my body and touched my organs, and the very next day my numbers started going up,” Brown said.
After 114 days in the hospital, he finally went home — which was the first miracle.
“I had lost all my muscle tone and 58 pounds of body weight and had to go from scratch to learn to sit up and stand again,” Brown remembered. “I finally learned to walk again.”
But then other things began to happen. Sores formed on his toes, causing them to turn black and blue. He learned he had peripheral artery disease, a condition made worse by his long stay on the ECMO machine, which focuses on using the blood supply to keep organs alive.
In October 2021, Brown’s right leg was amputated below the knee, and in March they amputated his left. After the second amputation, an episode with his medication landed him in the emergency room at Princeton, Brown said.
But even that was in God’s hand — it’s where the second miracle happened.
“When I went back to the hospital after this second amputation, they found a heart problem,” Brown recalled. “The main artery around my heart was 99% blocked, and there were three other arteries almost completely blocked.”
This condition wouldn’t have been detected without his issues with the amputation, Brown noted.
“God’s timing is perfect. He was making things happen to me that could not be anything but God’s hand.”
As a result he now has four stents, a new heart valve and two prosthetic feet.
And most importantly he’s alive to spend time with his wife, two children and five grandchildren.
“If I was ever doubtful that God still worked miracles, I was definitely proven wrong and believe completely that God is a miracle-working God,” Brown declared. “I’m here because God allowed me to live again.”
He says the Lord has given him the gift of more time.
“He’s helped the doctors find my heart issue. He’s got some more plans for me,” Brown asserted. “I’ve tried to be a positive influence in my church with all of this, to show how great God is and have a good attitude even though I’ve lost both legs.
“What’s happened to me could make a person get down on themselves and get down on God. But God is good, and He works miracles,” Brown declared.
His pastor said he has been a testimony of God’s goodness to his church and everyone around him.
“It has been amazing to see God work in all that,” Byrd said. “The people there at the hospital were surely confounded by God showing up and healing him. Rick continues to amaze them. He’s a very inspirational person.”