The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
When the renowned German surgeon, Dr. Werner Forssmann (1904-1979) was in medical school, he had an idea. He believed that if a small tube were inserted into an artery and run into the heart, then the diseased heart was x-rayed, it would be possible to diagnose the problem and thus save many lives. His professors, however, were horrified and forbade him to do the experiment.
Forssmann, though, wasn't to be deterred. He became his own guinea pig, inserting a small catheter into his own artery, then x-rayed himself, thus proving that it could be done. This brave man paved the way for tremendous advancements in the treatment of coronary disease, and hundreds of thousands of people are alive today because modern heart treatment has been built on the shoulders of this man's discovery.
Like what? In 1959--not that many years ago--Dr. F. Mason Sones, Jr., an American cardiologist, performed the first angiogram whereby dye is inserted into an artery and the heart is x-rayed, thus determining the amount of blockage which a clogged artery has sustained.
Your arteries carry oxygen to your heart, and when they get clogged--much like a drain when roots from a tree and sediment build up over the years and obstruct the flow of water--your heart cannot function.
For several decades opening the chest and replacing diseased arteries with a piece of vein out of your leg was pretty much standard procedure. Then Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty became convinced there had to be a better way--a less invasive procedure; and in 1963 he introduced the first balloon catheter, a small plastic balloon, which flattens the build up of plaque when it is pulled through an artery.
Dr. Fogarty is a tinkerer and inventor always, trying to find a better way to do something. When he was awarded the distinguished Lemelson-MIT award with an accompanying prize of $500,000, he explained, "I've achieved the things I've done by asking one question--'Can it be done better?'"
Fogarty holds 63 patents in surgical instrumentation and has achieved because he refused to believe that improvement couldn't be made on existing procedures and equipment.
With all of the progress which has been made in the field of medicine and technology, I am yet amazed at the number of people who for a variety of reasons, fear being foremost among them--refuse to take advantage of what is now readily available. I am thinking of a conversation with a friend who told me that his cholesterol is about 300 (I quickly add that if yours is over 200, it's high. The figure he mentioned is very high), and his doctor had prescribed one of the new statin drugs which has been used very successfully to lower cholesterol. But he never filled the prescription. "Why?" I asked. "I just don't like to take medicine," he replied.
While the human heart is vital to your health, it's also interesting to note how the Bible refers to the heart as being the seat of your emotions, the very control center of your thoughts and feelings. Poets talk about it; lovers sing about it, and doctors try to keep it healthy. Recently I pondered the words of William Cowper's old hymn which go, "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." I couldn't help thinking that just as it is difficult for some to accept the help which medical science offers, it is also hard for them to accept God's remedy for what doctors cannot cure--the dark side of human failure, the sins of the heart. There's a strange parallel here, one which makes no sense when it is a matter of life and death.
Resource reading: Colossians 2:1-11