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Miracles live among us every day

POSTED: May 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Miracle is one of those words we use a little too easily.

I don't think it requires something beyond imagination, like raising someone from the dead, but a miracle should be undoubtedly special.

Kevin Jarrard is a Marine. Even out of uniform, he just looks the part. This week, Jarrard, a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, came home after a year in Haditha, Iraq.

It was a year that had some interesting twists and turns. Just before he was to leave, his father, Tom, lost a courageous battle with cancer.

But he carried on and set out for his assignment in Iraq.

While out on patrol, he learned about a little girl who had a severe heart ailment. She was about the age of his youngest little girl. Her lips and fingers were blue from poor circulation. This may be the point where the daddy in him overrode the Marine.

A doctor in his unit was from Vanderbilt Medical Center and called and arranged care at their fine children's hospital. But how do you get a girl, her mother and a medic back to the U.S.

He confided this week that it was a real moment that he missed his dad, who was one of those great go-to guys.

"It would have taken just one phone call," he said.

He enlisted several folks, including me, to help out. I mentioned it in a column and many of you responded from your heart and your pocketbook.

I learned this week, just how touch and go it was getting little Amenah here.

"I didn't think she was going to make it," Jarrard said. He went as far as the border in a helicopter and was relieved when he heard she had made it to Nashville, Tenn.

"I told the family up front that there were no guarantees and she might not make it," he said.

But she did.

That daddy in a Marine uniform was delighted when Amenah came back with a repaired heart and a chance for life.

On his last day of command in Iraq, Jarrard saw his friend, Hammad, and his ailing son, Ammar, leave for Jordan en route to Charleston, S.C. where life-saving surgery awaited Ammar. Kevin and another Marine doctor had helped line up the needed treatment.

Last week, Jarrard came down from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Charleston, where he saw a much different Ammar. The boy who like Amenah was blue from poor circulation, was now full of color and life. The surgery worked and this week Ammar and Hammad went back to Iraq.

Getting two little children and their parents out of a country like Iraq, to the U.S. and back safely, is pretty awesome. But getting them here and changing the prognosis of their lives forever is worthy of the term miracle.

There's another term that I don't use too lightly: humanitarian. The only one I have ever known was a wonderful physician named Sam Poole. He provided medical care for folks who had no access through any other means.

I think Kevin Jarrard is the second humanitarian I've come across. He had the right mixture of loving daddy and dedicated Marine to facilitate a couple of honest-to-goodness miracles.

He makes me proud to be an American and a real believer in miracles.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times.



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