Ask and it will be given to you; see and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you~Matthew 7:7

My wife and I have been involved with Canvasback Missions, which provides specialty medical teams to the people of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In 1997, on one of our earliest trips to the FSM, we were asked to provide care for patients suffering from chronic ear disease, and we primarily focused on this need. But when we arrived, we found that an islander in the hospital had a fairly large three-pointed fish-bone stuck in his larynx, and it had been there for more than two weeks! His local medical personnel knew of our soon arrival and had kept him in the hospital, hoping we would be able to help.

Being an otolaryngologist, one would think that removal of a fish bone would be a routine procedure. But because we anticipated treating only ear diseases, we did not bring any laryngeal instruments that would be useful for this problem. These islanders are extremely poor and have little, if any, of their own medical equipment and supplies. That lack requires visiting specialty teams to bring everything they need for their work.

We searched the hospital for any possible tool that might aid in removing the fish bone, but to no avail. There were numerous drawers in several rooms that were completely empty of any supplies, let alone something that could reach down and grab a fish bone.

That evening, our team discussed the case and what we might be able to do, including having the patient sent to Honolulu or the Philippines for definitive care. We prayed earnestly for help and guidance that night; the next morning, after worship and further prayer, we went to the hospital.

The patient was wheeled into the operatory with no obvious instruments available other than a headlight and a tongue blade. I was impressed to ask the anesthesiologist to place him under anesthesia without intubation (as the fish bone was directly obstructing the view of his vocal cords) so that I might look at the problem while the patient was asleep.

At the very moment the patient was going to sleep, my surgical technician “happened” to look again in one of the same drawers we had searched frantically the night before. In that drawer, miraculously, there was an old but functional McGill forceps! Using the anesthesiologist’s laryngoscope and my newfound tool, I was able to locate the fish bone and remove it easily and without incident.

We were all amazed by the obvious answer to our prayer in such an incredible way. It brought to life God’s promise in Isaiah 65:24 (NIV): “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

-James Reese, LLUSM class of 1974, has practiced otolaryngology in Sonora, California, for more than 35 years. This story occurred o a trip to Pohnpei.