DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Inside Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, the sounds of pulsing machines fill the hallways.
But inside the hospital’s chapel there is another sound. It’s the voice of Sevetra Pankey. She’s not a patient, but she has become a faithful visitor.
Pankey’s daughter, Senetra Pink, was sent to Baylor from their home in Tyler to see a specialist when she found out she was going into labor early. To add to that, doctors already knew the baby would have medical complications and admitted her immediately.
For more than six weeks the grandmother’s voice filled the chapel. “Well God knows I love this place, because here I can come and show God how I was really feeling,” says Pankey “Because in front of my daughter I tried to keep a happy ‘smile, everything is going to be fine’ face.”
It all began when Pankey’s grandson, Tysen Curtis Burns, was born with a blockage in his intestine two months ago. He couldn’t eat anything, and his doctors told his family the prognosis wasn’t good. He would need surgery and could face long term complications.
Pankey struggled to be strong, so she walked downstairs to the chapel and belted out one gospel song after another at the piano. “When I got to the chapel I could just pray and pray and cry and pray,” explains Pankey “In fact, I really just stretched out on the floor. I felt like being on my knees was too high, so I laid down on the floor and I poured my heart out to my God.”
Pankey’s words rang so powerful and beautiful others couldn’t help but listen. “I would be singing and praying and then I turn around and ‘wow, where did all those people come from?’ the hall would be full, the back would be full,” says Pankey.
Every day for weeks Pankey sang and prayed. A voice of faith to pray for her grandson and an inspiration for others. “You couldn’t move, you had to take it in and had to realize that it planted a sense of worship in you too, it was infectious,” says Baylor Chaplin Angela Niestemski. “We had people in our main lobby area, 300 feet away, that people were being drawn down here to find out what was going on. There was such a sense of life that she brought to the hospital.”
While Pankey sang downstairs, upstairs doctors scheduled another surgery for Tysen when all of a sudden, and for really no particular medical reason, he started eating on his own. “We took a chance and gave him a bottle. He took the bottle.” explains Pediatrician Vijay Nama.
Tysen’s rapid turnaround surprised doctors and brought tears of joy to his grandmother. She has stopped singing now that her grandson is home and healthy, but patients still ask about the woman in the chapel who helped lift spirits and perhaps even more.