Sadie Elizabeth Abell was born on December 17, 2006 at Howard County General Hospital. Within a few hours, it was determined that she had Group B streptococcal septicemia, a serious bacterial infection that is the #1 cause of infant fatality in the United States. Within hours of her birth, Sadie was transferred to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
During her three days at the Children’s Center, Sadie quickly endeared herself to her doctors and nurses. In turn, those doctors and nurses endeared themselves to Sadie’s family. The Children’s Center has long been synonymous with excellence in medical research and care. During their time with Sadie, the Children’s Center staff also demonstrated a remarkable capacity for warmth, empathy, and compassion.
The Children’s Center PICU team worked tirelessly to save Sadie’s life. As her condition continued to worsen, they rose to each new challenge with determination and creativity. In the midst of this, Kristen Nelson, M.D., a physician in the pediatric critical care unit, and Donald Shaffner, M.D., the attending physicians and director of pediatric anesthesia and critical care medicine, were consistently available to talk with Sadie’s family, answer all their questions, and simply provide comfort when nothing else would do.
Throughout the ordeal, Amy often said she just wanted to get Sadie home. After three days, God took Sadie home to heaven, on December 19, 2006.
Jason and I are strong Christians, but our faith had never been tested as it was during our brief time with Sadie and after her death. Many people might expect an experience like this to lead us to a loss of faith and a questioning of the benevolence of God. However, we’ve found that Sadie has brought us closer to God, and deeper into our faith, than we ever thought possible.
Even greater, Sadie has brought others to faith – even some who did not have any relationship with God before. At Sadie’s memorial service, many non-believing friends heard the Gospel for the first time in years, or even for the first time in their lives. Some of these people have now begun exploring their faith, and recommitting their lives to God.
Sadie’s Gift of Faith
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
We believe that this is all part of Sadie’s Gift. It is very clear to us that she was born for a reason. God had a purpose for her life, as He has for all of us. Bringing others to God is all part of her gift, and why God brought her here to us, even for such a brief time.
We don’t believe that Sadie is gone forever. We know that we will be reunited with her someday. In the meantime, we will walk in God’s message of hope, strive to honor her memory, and praise our Lord who gave to us the precious gift of life.