Q: How did a college student possibly save Billy Graham’s life?
A: He diagnosed a serious blood clot.
Throughout his ministry, Billy Graham has spoken at numerous universities, colleges, and seminaries around the world.
But one of the most memorable university appearances for Billy Graham was at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
Every three years, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship holds the Urbana Missions Conference over Christmas break on the University of Illinois campus. Now bringing around 18,000 university students together from across the world, the conference focuses on the challenge of world missions.
As a recurring speaker at the notable missions conference throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Graham recounted one personal incident at this conference in his autobiography Just As I Am:
My left leg began to hurt during the session, and I kept lifting it and twisting it in an attempt to relieve the pressure. Sitting down in front of me was a medical student who sent a note over to David Howard, director of the convention. The pain got worse, and after I finished talking, I left the platform.
“I think you may have something wrong with your leg,” said the young doctor. “Let me examine it.”
He sat down on a chair and gave my leg a thorough exam.
“Who’s your doctor?” He asked.
“Dr. Rollie Dickson of the Mayo Clinic.”
“Call him right away.”
T.W. was with me and made the call. My doctor talked first with the medical student, asking him to lift my leg in all directions. Then my doctor asked to speak with me.
“I don’t want you to leave that chair,” he said. “I want you to be taken back by stretcher to your quarters, and we’ll send a hospital plane for you. We think you have thrombophlebitis.”
When the plane from Minnesota arrived, T.W. Wilson, Billy Graham’s son Ned, and the medical student from Egypt, Victor Wahby, all boarded with Mr. Graham. When they landed in Rochester, Dr. Dickson and cardiologist Dr. Schirger rushed him to the hospital.
They determined that Mr. Graham did in fact have thrombophlebitis, a blood clot in the deepest vein, close to the bone. If it had broken free, it could have gone immediately to the brain.
With his successful diagnosis, Wahby so impressed the staff at the Mayo Clinic that they later accepted his application for advanced study.