This past week we had a near tragedy in our mission. We have certainly seen the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father in sparing the lives of two of our missionaries.
Last Thursday morning, November 11, two of our Elders were sent to the emergency room by ambulance with carbon monoxide poisoning. They spent that day in and out of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and were released late that night to go home. One Elder is doing fine but the other has been in and out of the hospital for more hyperbaric chamber treatments due to dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and elevated carboxyhemoglobin levels. It may take months before he could possibly be feeling better and also to know if there will be other symptoms as a result of the poisoning.
The Elders are living in the basement of a member's home where a water boiler is located. The exhaust pipe broke loose and was leaking carbon monoxide. Wednesday afternoon, while the missionaries were gone, the carbon monoxide alarm went off. The batteries were removed and replaced. The monitor began to beep again. The person living in the home took it outside where it stopped. Upon coming back in the house it continued to beep. She determined that it must be faulty and put it on the counter with intentions to replace it.
Wednesday night the Elders were in bed by 10:00 p.m. One of the Elders got up to use the bathroom at about 4:00 a.m. He was extremely dizzy and while trying to go back to bed ran into a wall and collapsed. The sound awakened his companion who got up to help but started vomiting and also collapsed on the bathroom floor. Both Elders managed to get back to bed thinking that they had the flu.
About 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning the owner of the house went to the basement to exercise. After about 10 minutes on the elliptical he went up stairs and told his wife that he must be getting sick because he had no energy and was feeling weak. His wife asked him if he heard the missionaries up while he was downstairs. Ordinarily they could hear the shower going and on this morning they heard nothing. He went down to check on them. They were still in bed. He had a hard time arousing them. They realized at that time that something was wrong. They managed to get the missionaries up the stairs, where they collapsed again. They immediately called the paramedics and the Elders were taken to the hospital.
One Elder had a carboxyhemaglobin level of 11.8% in his bloodstream (normal is 0-4% depending on air quality). The other had 26% level of carboxyhemoglobin. The fire department began to measure the carbon monoxide in the house and because of the level of the measurement, determined they needed to "suit up" before they could even be in the house. The upstairs measured 100 ppm and the basement could not even be measured because it was higher than 1000 ppm. Ordinarily any level between 150-400 can be fatal. The doctors have told us that if either one of the Elders had been in the room for another 4 or 5 minutes they would not have been alive. The fact that they are alive today is an absolute miracle.
As we look back over the events that have taken place the past week we know these two Elders have been blessed and their lives have been spared by our Heavenly Father. One Elder is still struggling with symptoms but is able to move around and to communicate. We are so thankful for tender mercies.