Leah Michelle Rankin (1981-1989)

Twenty-nine years ago tomorrow, a 1970 Nova came screeching into the emergency room of Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas at 5:05 A. M. driven by a young seminary student with his wife in the back seat just about to give birth to a daughter. Those were the days when birthing rooms were brand new at hospitals, and we were excited to be able to do labor, delivery, and recovery all in the same room. Of course, that would have happened if we hadn’t been cutting it so close in getting to the hospital. Since her birth certificate stated, “Time of birth: 5:10 A. M.” one can see why we didn’t get to be a part of this new concept in labor and delivery care.

In this less than serene way, Leah Michelle Rankin was born into a fallen world. She discovered rather quickly that life on this terrestrial ball was not always easy and pleasant. From the very beginning she experienced digestion problems, and soon developed pulmonary problems, and after 18 months of numerous visits to doctors and hospitals was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). We had heard of cystic fibrosis but had no clue as to what that diagnosis would mean to Leah or to us.

CF is a disease in which the mucous glands produce excessive amounts of mucous which complicates digestion and makes it difficult for the body to thrive, and, more importantly, makes pneumonia a constant danger because the mucous build-up in the lungs provides a perfect place for bacteria to grow. We found out that the average life span of a CF child was about twenty years (that was in 1981, and much progress has been made in treatment options since then).

Leah’s life was filled with four breathing treatments a day, followed by percussion (to loosen the mucous in order that it could be coughed up), taking enzymes with food for digestion, IV antibiotics when pneumonia developed, large doses of steroids to keep the air passages open (which brought about steroid induced diabetes which meant the need for insulin) and numerous hospitalizations.

I will be forever grateful for the support that we received from our families, the churches to which we belonged during those years, the doctors (especially Dr. Dan Seilheimer), the child-life therapists (Mandy was one of Leah’s favorites), the respiratory and physical therapists, the school teachers both in Mauriceville and at Texas Children’s Hospital, and countless others who made Leah’s life and our lives easier during those difficult years. However, the message that I would like to stress most in these few paragraphs is that LEAH’S LIFE WAS WORTH LIVING.

Leah’s life was difficult, but she was able to love, and be loved; she was able to enjoy the beauty of music and art; she was able to enjoy time with her friends and her family; she was able to enjoy numerous books about Ramona Quimby, and enjoy her seemingly endless number of stuffed animals (which she would always pick out just one to sleep with every night); and most importantly of all, she was able to rest in Christ alone as her “only hope in life and death.” Although we only had Leah for eight short years here on this earth, those years were precious years to us, and, I believe, to her, and they are years that I would never trade away for anything.

Leah will always be a reminder to me that all of human life is precious, and that life in Christ, is even more precious, for Jesus promised in His Word, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)  And, I must say, I look forward to joining with her one day around the throne of God to sing with the church triumphant, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!

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3 Comments

  1. Carol A said,

    April 24, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    yes, all human life is precious and Leah’a was especially precious. I still have the calendar with her pictures in it.

  2. Sandra A. said,

    April 25, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Thanks for sharing, Clifton. Our prayers and thanksgiving go to the Father on your behalf.

  3. Natashia Johnson said,

    June 17, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    I don’t know if you remember me but I was a classmate in Mauriceville with Leah and also attended your church. We were all so sad when Leah was gone and we planted a nice memorial for her. She was such a wonderful person and her life was definitely worth living. She touched the hearts of many during her short time here on earth! May you rejoice when you join her in the great kingdom 🙂 God bless!!


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