By Ralphine Major
Mike Cruze was in The University of Tennessee Medical Center 23 days. For 21 of those days, the Master Gardener was unconscious and on a ventilator. Doctors told Barbara that Mike should be dead. He had suffered two types of aortic dissection (a tear in the aorta—the artery leading from the heart). Barbara learned that with even one type of aortic dissection, the patient may not survive. “Doctors repaired the ascending dissection but not the descending, since repairing both at once could be fatal,” Barbara shared. Mike survived, and nine doctors told Barbara they took no credit. It was a miracle!
Mike has some limitations these days after his terrifying ordeal along the interstate. Though he suffered some memory loss, Mike still writes informative gardening columns for the Knoxville Focus. After he was released from the hospital, Mike had one goal in mind. He wanted to find the men who stopped to help them that evening along the interstate. Barbara remembered the name she had asked of one man. Don Hughes. She looked in the telephone directory and found two names that matched. She called the first one.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end answered.
“Is this the Don Hughes who stopped to help the passengers in a pickup truck on Interstate 275 South about a month ago?” Barbara asked. (To be concluded in Part 4—how Mike and Barbara Cruze, through a life-and-death experience, have become encircled by an even larger family of faith.)