Weekly Newsletter- 8th February, 2019

So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost. Matthew 18:14

An author once wrote, “At times we feel ‘invisible’. But those who fight for children-for their safety and their health-are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we are doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by sacrifices of invisible people.”

On October 16, more than twenty years ago, a pediatric attending physician, fresh out of residency, was called for a consult. Many might think it bad luck that this new attending doctor had come to be known as an expert in cases of suspected child abuse. Such expertise might seem particularly unfortunate, given the fact that, twenty years ago, these cases were far more under recognized and even more difficult to prove.

On that day, Dr Claire Sheridan-Matney evaluated a tiny infant that had been badly injured. The child had numerous injuries. The history provided by the caretakers in no way explained the severity she was noting. She then did what she has been doing for the past twenty-plus years-she became voice for the child. Although at that time few were willing to do this, she stood up and called this case “child abuse”. She forwarded her report to the authorities, whose job it would be to take the next step.

Twenty years later, the same child was admitted to Loma Linda Medical Center. Profoundly delayed, underweight, and very sick, she has been in the care of those same caretakers during the intervening twenty years. This would likely cause any doctor to pause and reevaluate the past twenty years of service. Some might even see this case as a failure. But for all of us-the doctors, social workers, and staff who have worked with Dr Sheridan-Matney-we look at this case and see the cathedral she has been building for more than two decades.

No matter the case, however difficult or heartbreaking, she has continued to fight. Quietly, with little praise and no promises of great reward, she has been building this work-brick-by-brick. She has saved thousands of children and perhaps, at times, has felt invisible. Few children are likely to have even known what she has done, being too small and young to know the face of the person who saved them.

When I asked her once what prompted her to take up this crusade, she told me that she saw the horrors of child abuse and she felt a responsibility. Imagine how this world would be for children if we all felt this responsibility. As a famous author once said, few cathedrals have ever been built because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree. For twenty years, Dr Sheridan-Matney has been working and building something she will never see finished. If at times she has felt invisible, she needs to know that we all see her; and the eyes of God see everything.

– Amy Young-Snodgrass, LLUSM, Forensic pediatrics Specialist