Monday, 19 March 2012

Don't pray for Muamba

Fabrice Muamba is a young talented footballer who collapsed on Saturday with a cardiac arrest just before half time in the FA cup game between Bolton and Tottenham. Since then there has been pleas to pray for Muamba and the twitter hashtag #prayforMuamba has proved popular.

Muamba's manager summed up the thoughts of many by saying "God willing he makes it through".

God is portrayed in the Christian tradition as an omnipresent being; he is everywhere. He is also omnipotent and can do anything. Such a being undoubtedly would have the power to keep Muamba alive. However by definition such a being also chose or allowed Muamba to have a cardiac arrest. If Fabrice Muamba survives, it will be thanks to Muamba's fight and the team of medical experts who fought God's will for 2 hours in order to to get his heart beating again.

That prayers will not save Muamba is not just a theory. In 2006 the John Templeton Foundation, a charity which supports religious studies funded a $2,400,000 study into the effects of intercessory prayer on people recovering from heart operations. 1,800 patients took part in the study. They were split into three groups. Two groups did not know whether they were prayed for or not. Both groups 'prayed for' and 'not prayed for' had a similar rate of complications. The exceptional results came from the third group who were prayed for and knew that prayers were being said for them. They had 13% more complications than the other two groups.

Just because prayers do not work does not mean that there are not positive things that can be done.

  • Muamba is being treated in a NHS specialist hospital which is committed to helping patients and learning more about the causes of heart defects so preventative action can be taken. Currently it does not have to compete on price against a private entity whose principle motivation is not care or research but profit for their shareholders. The Health and Social care bill is currently going through parliament. Write to your MP and tell them you oppose the bill. Enter your postcode on this page and it will allow you to email them directly. 
  • Muamba is in the London Chest Hospital which is part of Barts and the London Hospitals. They have a charity. Click here to see how you can help
  • Based at the London Chest Hospital is the Heart Cells Foundation which is following up promising case studies and is trialling to see if they can use a patient's own stem cells to repair their damaged hearts. See how you can help them here.
  • Another charity based at the London Chest Hospital is the Barts and London Chest Hospital Radio Station. Their web page is here. You don't need to give much, £2 will pay for a radio which a patient can listen to.  The Radio station is currently off air due to pirate stations. Write to Ofcom and insist they do something about it.

By all means think of Fabrice Muamba and wish him a full and speedy recovery but rather than praying think about doing something that will make a difference.

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