Florida pastor makes miraculous recovery, undergoes heart transplant during pandemic

Mark Berney in hospital (PHOTO: Provided by AdventHealth Orlando).

Originally published in Faithwire

Mark Berney is alive today because of medical science and divine intervention.

In mid-March, the pastor of River of Life Assembly of God in Merritt Island, Florida, was delivering a sermon when he fell back in his chair and began seizing. Almost immediately, congregants called 911 and ran to the stage to pray for Berney.

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The preacher awoke moments later, surrounded by church members. When the ambulance arrived, Berney was immediately rushed to AdventHealth Orlando, where doctors determined he needed a heart transplant.

“My mortality was real — it’s that way for everybody,” Berney said in a press release obtained by Faithwire. “I had no guarantees to my future in this body. So I grabbed a hold of my faith and I drove down where God was concerned and recognised that He’s my prize, ultimately. When I signed up for Him, He’s my ultimate destiny.”

“That began giving me peace of mind — knowing I was gonna be OK,” he continued. “No matter what, I couldn’t lose. I’d always win.”

With his faith intact, the 61-year-old pastor faced a daunting challenge: undergoing a heart transplant in the middle of a pandemic.

And on April 22, he got a new heart.

“Words cannot express how I feel,” Berney said of the donor and his surviving family. “How humbled I am for it and how grateful I am.”

Now at home recovering, Berney, who has had a history of heart troubles, said he can feel warmth in his legs for the first time in a decade. He said he is “completely blown away at the mercy of God.”

“The blood that’s going to my brain, I feel like I’ve woken up from a deep sleep,” he said, “and I just wanna tell you, I don’t care what you’re going through in life, if you will drill down in your faith, He will give you what it takes to get you to the other side.”

Dr. Nirav Raval, thoracic medical director at Advent Health Transplant Institute, described the preacher’s stunning recovery.

“He could have, frankly, died then and there if he didn’t have a defibrillator,” the doctor said, noting Berney’s survival was a combination of “medical science and divine intervention.”

Berney, for his part, praised the hospital and it’s staff for their “tireless dedication” to his care, particularly when he was in the intensive care unit and his wife was at home, due to coronavirus-induced restrictions.

“I’m impressed and I’m still overwhelmed emotionally,” he said. “[I]’m extremely humbled at the gift of life.”

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