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Summer 2005 | Volume 28, Number 2 | Alumni

Prayer Supports Young Alumni Family Faced With a Dire Prognosis for Their Firstborn

AS MINDY LEE FERGUSON IRVINE ’97 and Doug Irvine ’95 presented their baby, Sophia Lee, for dedication to the Lord on February 13, 2005, Doug told the church congregation, “The life Scripture we have chosen for Sophia is Proverbs 3:5–6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.’”

Doug gently tweaked the pink foot Sophia was waving through the air as he struggled through sudden emotion to say, “There were some health issues, but God has been very good to us.” At that point, Sophia clapped her hands and cried out, “Yeah!”

The family and friends who gathered at Mars Hill Fellowship in Seattle that day agreed, too. Most of them had also heard the Irvines pledge their love to each other in a wedding ceremony four years earlier — and knew the journey they had traveled since then.

The bride and the groom brought many successes to their marriage. In her senior year, Mindy Lee’s national championship on the uneven bars helped Seattle Pacific University’s 1997 gymnastics team win the national championships. Doug went straight from SPU to KOMO-TV and within a year won the first of nine regional Emmy Awards for his work behind the camera.

The couple could not have imagined, however, the challenges they would face throughout their first pregnancy. Nor could they have imagined how God would answer their prayers for their firstborn. Initially, the pregnancy was uneventful — until an ultrasound in the third month revealed hydrocephalus: water on the baby’s brain. Predicting an enlarged head, mental slowness, and the need for surgery to insert a life-saving shunt immediately after birth, the doctor had a question: Did the Irvines want to terminate the pregnancy? She gave them a few weeks to decide.

Stunned by the diagnosis, the couple responded, “We can tell you right now that’s not even an option we would consider.”

Across the country, people began to pray. Then, at 30 weeks, Mindy Lee developed pre-eclampsia, a condition that included dangerously high blood pressure, edema, and proteinuria. Knowing she was risking stroke or even her life for a child who could be mentally disabled, she hung on for 14 more days in Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington, on a magnesium I.V. drip, trying to give their baby more time to develop.

The intercessors intensified their efforts. When the baby, Sophia Lee, arrived on July 1, 2003, Doug was in the delivery room with his camera rolling; both grandmothers were there for support; and, in the waiting room, a team of people was praying. After examining the 3-pound, 11-ounce newborn, the doctor said, “If I hadn’t been alerted to possible trouble, I would never have suspected there was anything wrong with this baby.” Both the delivery room and the waiting room were awash with tears at the good news.

After two weeks, Sophia left the hospital without a shunt and developed normally in every way, except that she was at the low edge of norms for weight gain. So, at 15 months, the doctor recommended an MRI, and Doug and Mindy Lee agreed.

At the follow-up appointment, the Irvines waited while the neurosurgeon and the hydrocephalus specialist consulted the MRI images and reports before them. Occasionally, Sophia toddled over to their desk, tilted her head toward them and said, “Hi!” Absorbed in discussing the data, they didn’t hear her. Determined to get their attention, she grabbed the neurosurgeon’s notebook, shook it, and jabbered at him angrily.

The neurosurgeon glanced at her, then stared. “Is this the child?” When Doug and Mindy Lee assured him she was, he thumbed through the file again, verifying that the name was correct.

Confused, he said, “The child we’re seeing here is very different from what we would expect, given the information we have.”

As Mindy Lee and Doug left the doctor’s office that day with their daughter, they remembered Sarah, a Jewish chaplain, who had prayed for them in the hospital. Off duty when Sophia was born, she saw the Irvines’ baby in a dream. She asked God, “What is her name?” He replied, “Eliana,” which means “God answered.”

Editor’s note: Mindy Lee and Doug Irvine live in Seattle, where she is a full-time mother and he — after a stint at filming for “Sell That House” on the A&E Channel — is now a cameraman for Seattle’s KING-TV. The Irvines welcomed their second child, Elliott William, in July.

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