BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A dying man’s wish to be baptized was granted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital.
The university says Thomas Roberts was battling lung cancer and had only days to live when he decided on Sept. 4 that he wanted to be baptized.
To fit with his beliefs, Roberts wanted to be fully submerged during the ceremony, which proved challenging because he was wheelchair-bound and unable to breath without oxygen tubes. However, that didn’t stop chaplain Corey Agricola and the UAB palliative care team.
“It was a major effort by a lot of moving pieces and different teams to pull this off,” Agricola said. “If it had not been for the team, this could not have happened.”
Once Roberts’ doctors approved of him being off his oxygen long enough to go underwater, the team jumped into action.
Surrounded by his wife, son, two sisters, niece and nephew, and his UAB care team, Roberts was lowered into the water, where Agricola and physical therapist Marissa Smith were waiting for him.
After a reading of Romans 6:4-11, Smith removed Thomas’ oxygen tubes, while Agricola held him in his arms and performed the baptism.
With only days left to live, a @UABSOM patient in the Palliative Care and Comfort Unit who was dying from lung cancer, was baptized in the pool at Spain Rehabilitation Center. @uabmedicine https://t.co/yzVH44OVfZ pic.twitter.com/oLvvSptJcG
— UAB (@UABNews) October 1, 2019
“It brings me complete comfort and peace because I know where he is going now,” said Gina Gibson, Roberts’ sister. “I don’t have to worry about it. Now there will be great joy just knowing where he is going. He is at peace. He was born again. You could see that on his face after the baptism. He was born again.”
Sadly, Roberts passed away six days later on Sept. 10.
“I don’t know what could be a better gift than the feeling of peace, and that is what we have now,” said Brooke Carr, Roberts’ niece.