Open Heart Surgery

The following is an excerpt from an AP report dated May 18, 1998:

Shot while playing basketball just steps away from a hospital, a 15-year-old boy lay bleeding to death in an alley as emergency room workers refused to treat him, saying it was against policy to go outside.


About 30 minutes after the shooting Saturday, a frustrated police officer finally commandeered a wheelchair and brought the boy in himself, but it was too late.

A bullet had perforated Christopher Sercye's aorta, and he died about an hour after he was brought into Ravenswood Hospital.

Friends, neighbors and police officers had pleaded with the ER staff to come out and treat him. Several people also called for an ambulance, but none had arrived after more than 20 minutes, police said. One showed up after the officer took Christopher inside…

… Three teens who prosecutors said have gang affiliations were charged with first-degree murder in the shooting. Christopher was described as an innocent bystander.

Five years later, the hospital would pay a $12.5 million settlement in response to a suit brought by Sercye’s family.

In fairness, I can think of a couple of scenarios that would necessitate a general policy prohibiting hospital staff from operating outside of the hospital.  But I can’t conceive of any that would keep them from coming out and taking the boy inside and offering whatever treatment was possible.  Sounds like a case of missing the forest for the trees.

This Sunday we’re going to see how Jesus responds when he encounters similarly blind legalism among the Pharisees.  And the legalism in Mark 7 is actually worse, because the Pharisees are intentionally employing legalism to fatten their own wallets.

Instead of blindly following rules, Jesus shows us another way to live.