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A nail in the heart drives home a lesson on faith and prayer

Published: Thursday, July 25 2013 10:30 p.m. MDT

“Just thinking about him possibly not being there was a pretty… pretty scary thing.”

Another car ride

David Tullis stayed at the hospital to wait with his son to be flown to Primary Children’s Medical Center. Myndie Tullis left to make the 45-minute drive by herself, her husband hoping to fly with their son.

“People have asked me, ‘How did you get through that drive? Was it the most horrible thing you’ve ever experienced?’“ she said. “It was really hard. I cried a lot, but it was also one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.”

She said she felt a power come over her that was not her own, which she credits to responses to her text message.

“I just felt this almost tangible power and peace that did not come from me,” she said. “And along with that, just this sense of gratitude that I am (Abe’s) mom and it just completely encompassed me that whole ride.”

Neighbor Emily Ballstaedt was at a pool with a few other neighbors and their children when she received the text message.

"When I first read it, I gasped," she said.

Ballstaedt had to read the message a few times before she could read it to the other mothers. Everyone started to cry.

The mothers said a prayer right there on the pool deck. Then they gathered their children at the edge of the pool, some of them still in the water, and said another prayer. Five-year-old Gwen Ballstaedt offered a simple prayer: "Please fix Abe's broken heart."

Abe Tullis arrived at Primary Children’s Hospital and was rushed to 4 ½ hours of open-heart surgery.

He said later he remembers thinking at some point that he might not live.

“But that was for like five seconds, then I’m like, ‘I’m going to make it, I’m good,’” he said.

Abe Tullis talked about the surgery. He said Dr. Todd Haderlie stitched around the nail. Then, like a drawstring, someone pulled the nail out while the stitches were pulled and closed the hole in his heart.

He was released from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit less than 24-hours after the surgery. Fourty-eight hours after open-heart surgery, Abe Tullis' chest tubes were taken out and he said he felt no pain.

Little Things

There is nothing hanging on the walls in the Tullis’ home. With a 15-month-old, Myndie Tullis is just now starting to think about hanging pictures. The only exception is a small metal figure made of nails that spell out, “ABE,” a the vase of flowers next to it, and a picture of Jesus Christ.

“I know he was protected,” his mother said. “So many little things had to happen for him to make it.”

David Tullis said after the surgery, he asked himself, "Why did this happen?"

David, the father, had mowed over that very spot many times. Abe, the son, didn't do anything differently. Why this time? Why hadn't he pulled the nail out and why did he drive his son to the hospital himself? How were the doctors so prepared, and the helecopter refueled just before the call?

“I think that same moment another thought came, with this happening, ‘Why did he make it?’ I think just flipping the question like that made me realize that he’s a pretty important kid and that a lot of things worked out,” he said. "We know he's going to do some amazing things."

For now, Abe Tullis' lawn mowing business is on hold.

"Yeah I don't really want to mow lawns," he said.

The next time his family is doing lawn work, Abe Tullis has a new plan:

"I'm going to play video games."

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

Twitter: EmileeEagar

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