Herd of sheep in desert

The Good Shepherd
Story 5

It was the fall of 2018, and Dr. Jeff Egler had just made plans to soon join Adventist Health as the medical director of Inspire Health Center.

With a baby on the way, Dr. Egler and his family made plans to move to Roseville in early March. But in February, everything changed. Their baby was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), and doctors recommended a C-section in one week. This meant a week of waiting and worrying – as well as a premature birth for their baby.

“Imagine my wife’s anxiety having that baby within her – having to hold him in there – for another week before we could get him out to safety,” says Dr. Egler.

Dr. Jeff Egler with newborn son

Although he and his wife went down many Google “rabbit holes” that week, Dr. Egler explains that around that time, an inexplicable feeling of peace came over him.

“Of course, I had my moments of fear and worry about what could happen, but I always just felt everything was going to be okay,” he explains. “God planted a seed in my mind and heart that grew into an incredible faith that I can’t explain.”

"God planted a seed in my mind and heart that grew into an incredible faith that I can’t explain."

After he was born, baby Egler spent the first month of his life in the NICU where he required oxygen among other interventions.

“I slept almost every night [that month] in the NICU on the couch,” Dr. Egler recalls.

After their son was discharged from the hospital, he continued to require supplemental oxygen. The Eglers spent the next few months going from specialist to specialist but finding no clear answer to the question: Why did their baby still need help breathing?

Shepard at home

“The pediatric pulmonologist told us they still didn’t really know what was wrong, but he’s going to continue to need to be on oxygen,” Dr. Egler says. He recalls the doctor further explaining that their baby may need to be on oxygen until 5 or even 10 years old.

At that news, Dr. Egler remembers, “Our hearts sank.” But, he adds, he still felt a spark of hope. “It didn’t sit right with my faith."

One night, as he was checking in on his son for a nighttime feeding, Dr. Egler had a strong feeling that it was time to try dialing down the oxygen.

“I kept dialing it down and watching him, until it was off,” Dr. Egler explains. “This had happened before, he had periods where he was off oxygen for hours or maybe even a day or so, but then he would need it again.”

But this time, their son never needed the oxygen again.

Dr. Jeff Egler and family

Dr. Egler likes to joke with his wife that he healed their son with his mind or positive attitude. “But I know ... that was God,” he says. “God healed my son. He healed his lungs through my faith. And I have tremendous gratitude for the opportunity I had to be a ‘good shepherd’ to him and my wife through that experience.”

In gratitude for this healing experience, the Eglers named their son Shepard.

Dr. Jeff Egler outdoors with family