Neighbor: He’s the ‘Miracle Man’

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2001

Features Editor

Feb. 22, 2001 10 PM

Around his neighborhood and among friends, Horace Killingsworth is known as the "miracle man."

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In his heart, he knows it’s true.

Miracles aren’t rare, it’s only that we rarely know about them.

But, every now and then a Horace Killingsworth-kind of miracle happens, perhaps, just so we don’t stop believing in them.

Killingsworth not only believes in miracles, he is one and he knows how blessed he is.

During this past summer, Killingsworth began to experience extreme tiredness and shortness of breath. He feared it was his heart – and it was.

On July 18, he underwent open heart surgery at a Montgomery hospital.

He had two by-passes, the aortic valve replaced and a hole in his heart repaired.

"The doctor replaced the valve with a cow valve and, I guess, they put a cork in the hole," Killingsworth said, with a smile.

It’s good to be able to find a little humor in what was a very serious, almost

fatal, condition.

That was something Killingsworth didn’t expect when he "diddy-bopping" into the hospital for open heart surgery that summer morning.

"I wasn’t nervous one bit," he said. "I had all the confidence in the world in my doctors and I never doubted that I would be back home working in my flowers in nine or 10 days."

So that Killingsworth would be rested when he had to check into the hospital at 5 a.m. July 18,

he and his wife, Nadine, checked into the Days Inn which is near the hospital.

When he came out of surgery, a nurse asked him where he lived and he answered "Days Inn."

At that point, everyone laughed a sigh of relief. Their loved-one was going to be okay.

And, for a few days, it seemed that way.

Although Killingsworth was heavily sedated, his family was assured that was best for him because it allowed his body to heal. They were optimistic. But, on Sunday, they were told he had taken a turn for the worse.

A stomach infection was the cause and medication was not successful in treating it. Surgery was required. Still Killingsworth’s condition continued to worsen. His family was not given much hope.

However, they clung, not to hope, but faith.

For five weeks, Killingsworth remained in ICU, fighting for his life. After three weeks, his condition began to slowly improve until he could be moved to a long term care facility.

As he was being wheeled to the ambulance to be transported to the other hospital, the gurney hit a bump and jogged Killingsworth.

"I looked up and saw the ceiling, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve made it out of surgery,” Killingsworth said. "That is the first memory I have of the ordeal since I remember them pushing me into surgery. The five weeks between are a complete blank to me. They say it’s good that I can’t

remember it because I was in real bad shape. Twice, they thought I was

gone. I don’t remember any of that, but I know I’m blessed – real blessed."

Seventy-three days after Killingsworth entered the hospital, he came home.

Family and friends met him, and as weak as he was, he waved "thank you" to them all.

"My family and friends and my church family, Bush Memorial, were there for me and my family all through my illness," he said. "They cared for me and prayed for me and God answered their prayers. I’m very thankful. I can’t ever thank them enough."

Killingsworth was home, but he had a long way to go in his recovery.

"I had to learn to talk again, walk again and do all the things for myself that we take for granted," he said. "I had to let Nadine wait on me. I felt helpless."

At times depression would creep into Killingsworth’s life, but he would not allow it to consume him.

"God has been very good to me," he said. "He brought me through and, during it all, I learned about the goodness of people. The kindnesses show to me and my family will never be forgotten and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to get up in the morning and do the things that make me happy. I’m really enjoying everything life has to offer."

Killingsworth said complications from open heart surgery were hard to overcome, but the surgery itself, gave him a new lease on life.

"It’s been a long, hard battle but the last couple of weeks, I’ve started to feel like myself again," he said. "It’s amazing what doctors can do."

Doctors repair "broken" hearts and help make miracles happen every day, Killingsworth said.

He gives his full support to the American Heart Association. Research funded by the association helps make "miracles" happen for many people every day.

On Saturday, Pike Countians will join together on the TSU campus for the annual Heart Walk to benefit the American Heart Association. The Walk begins at 9:30 and those who haven’t had a chance to make a donation to the cause are encouraged to

drive through the campus and "put your money where your heart is."