“Pack your bags, get into the hospital right now. You’re having an emergency C-section as soon as we can clear you,” said the doctor to Shannon Lapp.
It was a harrowing time yet again for the 28-year-old who had miraculously escaped death after enduring both liver rejection (from a childhood transplant) and meningitis in September 2018. (Read the full story of “The Miracle in Room 106” here.)
In fact, Shannon’s pregnancy had come as a surprise. She knew that because of her medical history, getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term would be difficult. That’s one of the reasons that she and her husband Jesse chose to adopt a child.
During a recent interview on “Christopher Closeup,” Shannon said, “I’m a big believer in signs from God and I was praying constantly, ‘If [adoption] is the route we’re meant to take, please show me a sign.’ And for a full year, it was sign after sign after sign.”
Feeling they both had a lot of love to give, Shannon and Jesse began the adoption process, and everything came together remarkably fast. Within a few months of completing their paperwork, they got a call that they had been selected by an unborn child’s birth parents to be his new family.
While the adoption moved quickly, so did the medical issues that were on the horizon. Less than two weeks after bringing home their new son Luke, Shannon wound up in the hospital experiencing liver rejection. Then, she contracted meningitis from the treatment. Everyone thought she was going to die.
Through it all, her mom Kelly Ann, who was Shannon’s original liver donor, stood by her side and prayed – and requested the prayers of many others through her social media accounts. Kelly Ann said, “The true answers to prayer, the true miracles, the true steadfastness of my faith, it comes always through surrender. And surrender means all…I surrendered her life and said [to God], ‘If it’s Your will to take her to heaven, then I accept that will.’ And it was only after that that the healing could take place.”
And that’s when the healing did take place, the miracle in Room 106.
Shannon returned home to her husband and son to recover and begin a new phase of her life: parenting. Six months later, she took a pregnancy test and was shocked by the result: positive.
“I told Jesse,” Shannon recalled, “and he got very emotional, and we were both so excited…[I was] also very nervous because I knew that my health had just been in one of the worst places it had ever been. I was honestly pretty terrified for the baby’s health and for my health, and I had no idea what was in store.”
Early on, the pregnancy went well, with just the normal back issues causing Shannon discomfort. Maybe, she thought, she would defy the doctor’s expectations and have a problem-free pregnancy. But reality soon set in.
Shannon said, “I had started getting really weird symptoms. I was itching badly. It started on my feet and then my hands, and then within probably two weeks time, my whole body was itching. I was scratching so much that I was bleeding.”
Doctors ran some tests on Shannon and discovered she had cholestasis, which affects the liver during pregnancy. The liver, of course, was the last bodily organ she needed another problem with. Blood tests to measure bile acid were taken. Shannon’s numbers should have been 10. The results, however, were 39. One week later, despite being on medication, her numbers had risen to 176.
Shannon recalled, “[The doctor] said he’s been doing this for 25 years, and he’s never seen a number even close to that, not that high. He said that with the number being that high and all my medical history, my life was at risk and the baby’s life was at risk. So we were rushing to the hospital and praying…I know we had hundreds of people praying across the world.”
Shannon may have had an advocate praying for her in another world, too. The date all this happened was September 11th, which is especially meaningful to the family because of Father Mychal Judge, the first person killed on the ground at the World Trade Center site on 9/11.
Kelly explained, “[Father Mychal] was the priest who blessed Shannon before her liver transplant 28 years ago. He…followed us all through that transplant and the subsequent surgeries in Chicago. He called us and prayed with us over the phone late at night, and then followed Shannon through the years.”
The family had prayed for Father Mychal’s intercession during Shannon’s liver problems and meningitis a year earlier. And Shannon even had a vision of him standing at her bedside at that time. Kelly believed that he was looking out for her daughter once again through this latest ordeal.
As the emergency C-section began in the hospital, Shannon was surprised to hear her doctor exclaim, “I don’t know how you got pregnant!” Shannon’s uterus, it turned out, was in such a state of severe endometriosis that she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place, much less been able to carry a baby to 35 weeks.
Though five weeks early, the baby, named Isaac, was born on September 12th at a healthy six pounds, nine ounces. However, he experienced some breathing problems soon after birth and was moved to the NICU. Doctors predicted he would be there for a month in order for his medical problems to resolve.
But, said Shannon, “I truly believe another miracle happened that day. By 48 hours after Isaac was born, he was off all oxygen, off all antibiotics, off the IV. And by day three, he was able to come into our room and be in the regular nursery. On day four, we were discharged and he went home with us. My husband said that the doctors had one idea that it was going to be three to four weeks, but God had another plan for us. We were very blessed and very fortunate.”
Regarding her recent experience, Shannon concluded, “It has strengthened my faith in ways that I can’t even put into words…It’s showed me that everything is possible through God. At the end of the day, I’ve come out a stronger person, a stronger wife, mother, daughter, sister. And I think it’s all thanks to God…It took me a really long time to get to the point where I needed to surrender. And honestly, I genuinely learned from the best. I learned from my mom. All the stories she’s told me and everything that she’s done for me over my lifetime, I learned from her. It’s funny that it took me 28 years to be able to fully surrender to God and to embrace it after watching my mom do it so many times my entire life. But I think it can take something so big and powerful in your life to realize that you’re not in control. And yeah, it was difficult, but the moment I [surrendered], there was this sense of peace and calm, and I knew that things would be okay.”
(To listen to my full interview with Shannon Lapp and Kelly Ann Hickey Lynch, click on the podcast link):