Providing comfort took this doctor out of his comfort zone

    Dr. Stephen Ludwig with one of his tiny patients. (Courtesy of Dr. Stephen Ludwig)

    Dr. Stephen Ludwig with one of his tiny patients. (Courtesy of Dr. Stephen Ludwig)

    It was a long, hard winter evening in the emergency department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Dr. Stephen Ludwig worked. They received a notification that a patient was incoming — a two-month-old baby with no vital signs. 

    Once the small, lifeless body arrived, it was clear to Dr. Ludwig that there was nothing that the doctors could do to revive the baby. It appeared to be a case of sudden infant death syndrome. 

    The baby’s parents arrived. They were a young couple; he a city worker and she a preschool teacher. 

    “They held the dead child in their arms, spoke to her, and rocked her tenderly,” Dr. Ludwig says. “Both sadness and admiration for them filled my heart.” 

    Dr. Ludwig asked if they wanted a clergyman to come to say the final prayer. The couple explained that they were baptist but their congregation had just lost their minister. They had no one to call. 

    They turned to the doctor and asked him to say a final prayer. 

    “There was a problem that quickly contaminated their simple request — I was Jewish, and I knew that the prayer that they wanted, and the one that they needed, involved the blessing of Jesus. And that might be some kind of spiritual conflict of interest for me.” 

    Listen to the full story above. This story was told as part of a University of Pennsylvania Equity Story Slam. 

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