No Prayer for Kosen-rufu Goes Unanswered
How chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with deep conviction and appreciation saved my life.
by Jane Poston
In September 2012, I started experiencing severe symptoms of heart failure stemming from the rare disease cardiac sarcoidosis. Most nights, I laid in bed propped up with pillows because this was the only way I could sleep without my lungs filling up with fluid. It was terrible and frightening.
One evening, I was coughing so uncontrollably that my husband, Charles, called emergency services, and I was rushed to the hospital. Doctors removed 13 pounds of excess fluid from my body.
Despite my cardiologist’s best efforts, I continued to get sicker. After about three years, he informed me there was nothing more he could do. I went straight to the Gohonzon and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to find a specialist who would not only take my case but also never give up on me.
In the depths of my being, I knew that I was a votary of the Lotus Sutra with a mission to defeat this devilish function of illness and show actual proof. I increased my chanting and infused my life with prayers to win and continue on with SGI President Ikeda and my friends in faith.
Several months later, the day finally came when I met my new doctor for the first time. She greeted me with a warm smile and listened to me with genuine interest. At the end of the nearly one-hour consultation, she placed her hands over mine and told me that she would take my case and “never give up on me,” my exact prayer!
I knew that I was a votary of the Lotus Sutra with a mission to defeat this devilish function of illness and show actual proof.
Charles and I looked at each other as tears welled in our eyes. At that moment, we knew we were in the best place for a victory to occur.
My doctor ran tests and outlined a treatment plan that would improve my life for the next three months. Every day, I chanted with deep appreciation for my Buddhist practice, my doctor and my new medication. Even when my body stopped responding to the treatment in June 2016, I was still grateful for having been able to extend my life.
After discussing viable options together, my doctor, Charles and I decided that the best choice for me was a heart transplant. I underwent a rigorous evaluation process and passed all but one test: A CT scan had revealed a cancerlike mass in my left lung.
Doctors decided to wait two weeks before doing another scan, so they could confirm whether the mass was growing. Although I was scared, I knew this was a benefit in disguise, as it gave me time to chant furiously to change whatever was going on in my lung. Every day, I would go back to Nichiren Daishonin’s words: “Although I and my disciples may encounter various difficulties, if we do not harbor doubts in our hearts, we will as a matter of course attain Buddhahood” (“The Opening of the Eyes,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 283).
At my second appointment, the radiologist rolled me in and out of the scanner an unusual number of times. When I had asked him why he was scanning me over and over again, he replied, with a big smile, that there was no longer any trace of the mass! Tears again on my part.
Now that I was approved for a transplant, the search was on for a donor heart. This was complicated by my small frame at the time (the heart had to be the right size to fit inside my chest), as well as my blood type (I could only be matched with another Type O-negative).
I barely remember much of what happened next, as I was hospitalized and sleeping a lot. With no prospects in sight, doctors told Charles they had to act immediately or they would lose me. He agreed to their proposal of transplanting a less-than-perfect heart, if they could find one. This allowed the doctors to broaden their search.
Though problematic hearts had been transplanted in patients in the past, due to advances in organ and donor screening, it had not been done as a matter of choice. But my doctors made a deliberate decision to do so and, amazingly, they found a match for me in six days! The donor heart was hepatitis C positive, but because my doctors anticipated this, they had already begun treating me for this illness.
My new heart arrived by helicopter early morning on Sept. 3, 2016, and I was whisked into a 12-hour surgery conducted by three surgeons. The operation was a great success! Together with my team of doctors, we pioneered a new way of treating patients requiring heart transplants, giving those who are the sickest an opportunity that once wasn’t available. I am both proud and honored to have been part of this.
My doctors have won two international awards for my case and are currently administering a national trial for this new program of hepatitis C heart transplants.
I have since completed cardiac rehab and even accomplished a 5K walk. Today, I’m talking good care of my health and feel great, in fact, a thousand times better than before! And, according to my doctor, my heart is “as clean as a whistle.” I have also been striving as a chapter women’s leader.
I am so appreciative to have encountered the Soka Gakkai—which has empowered me to create great value in society—and my mentor, President Ikeda, whose constant guidance keeps me going. For this reason, I now know that as long as I never give up, absolutely no prayer for kosen-rufu goes unanswered. WT