Small Ohio town gives trucker the best gift of all

| 1/17/2003

Independent trucker Jessie Douglas owes a lot to the folks in Marion, OH.

Douglas, who hails from Cedar Rapids, IA, was pulling loads through central Ohio in late November when he started to have pains in his abdomen, The Marion Star reported Jan. 9. On Nov. 23, he was headed south on U.S. 23 shortly after delivering a load in Martel, a small town northwest of Marion, when the pain became too much to bear. His temperature flared, and he decided it was no longer safe to drive.

"The pain flared up like crazy," Douglas told the newspaper. "At that time, fever came on me so bad that I was in and out (of consciousness)."

The trucker called 9-1-1, and was taken to Marion General Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. Karen Stacey-Erwin. Although he had suffered pain for three weeks and had sought medical help before to little avail, the diagnosis was a surprise.

"When I came to, the doc told me my appendix burst two days earlier," Douglas told The Star.

But the help Douglas received from the folks in Marion didn’t end there. The trucker’s family could not afford to come all the way from Iowa to Marion, which is roughly 50 miles north of Columbus, OH, to be with him. And he, obviously, could not make it home for Thanksgiving. So the Rev. Dan Kiger, the hospital’s chaplain, raised $1,000 from local churches and the hospital's administrative council to bring his family to Ohio.

On Dec. 31, after going home to Iowa to convalesce, Douglas came back to Marion to pick up his rig, which had been in the hospital’s parking lot. And while he was there, he made sure he stopped for a visit with the folks in Marion who lent a helping hand to him and his family during the holiday season.

"I should've been dead," Douglas told the Marion newspaper. "That's the best gift I could have had this Christmas – my life."