This interview of David McDowell's can be viewed on the Australian Missionary News IPTV at http://tv.bushorchestra.com/Media/videopages/david_mcdowell.html OR www.safeworlds.net
David McDowell told the Australian Missionary News anchorman Mark Tronson that he grew up in Victoria. In his late teens, he moved to the Gold Coast as a semi-professional surfer and stayed there.
At Snapper Rocks on the 13 March 1993, in surf that was three to five feet, he was rolled and crashed and was rescued, rushed to Tweed Heads Hospital and diagnosed with a spinal contusion, which is bruising and swelling that compresses the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries the signals from the brain to the muscles, so if this is damaged, the person has some degree of paralysis – depending on the extent of the injury.
The most common injury is simple 'contusion' of some sort, that is temporary and heals itself. However sometimes the damage is more extensive and permanent. The actor, Christopher Reeves, had much more severe damage resulting from a fall from his horse – the bones in his neck were actually broken, permanently damaging his spinal cord so that he was paralysed from the neck down.
David McDowell was devastated, because he was paralysed and did not know the extent of his injury. The medical staff feared the worst – that there may be spinal cord damage. He had been a Christian for seven years and believed in faith that when he called out to God for help, he would be heard.
By the seventh day no change had occurred, and the medical prognosis was grim. At that time, a group of similar accident victims were relocated to his ward and all he heard were their determinations to commit suicide. He believed that unless he escaped from that emotional and mental environment, he would be heading down that same route.
It was at this time that his plea to the Lord became desperate and the following morning the nurse who had come to roll over his spinal unit, jokingly said, "Move your feet across will you", and he thought about it and said to himself, "Yes, they are in the way," and he moved them!
The nurse dropped everything, screamed and ran for help. Medical staff came from everywhere including the State's leading Neurosurgeon, who the day before had told him he would never walk again as he thought there had been too much spinal damage. No one could understand this astonishing development but David McDowell knew better, and explained to them that a friend had a wide range of Churches praying for him.
It was a miracle that the damage to the spine was 'bruising', and was not as extensive as the medical advisers had first thought in that the spinal cord was not damaged permanently.
That same afternoon David McDowell was walking and he was let out of the hospital two days later. He developed a rehabilitation program of swimming in the surf and the pools. That is only half the story and his book 'Drowning Man' published by Ark House Press, North Sydney covers this, and the rest of his dramatic story as well.
David McDowell told the Australian Missionary News IPTV's Mark Tronson that a few years later when surfing at the Thirteenth Street Beach at Palm Beach, a friend arrived late and convinced him to return to the surf. On this occasion the surf board shot out from under his feet, spun with the fin gashing open his right leg.
He ended up in huge pain at the edge of the surf with tissue hanging out of his leg leaving a gaping hole and seagulls wanting to snatch it away. Again he was welcomed into Tweed Heads Hospital, this time by name, and had 35 stitches with little flesh being left within that part of his leg. He was told he would never be able to straighten his leg.
Worse was to come. The doctor, without telling him, diagnosed him with Golden Staph (an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection which enters open wounds and can get into the bloodstream) and had told the nurses he would not survive the weekend. This is often not such a problem with someone who is strong and fit in mind and body, like David McDowell, who has a better chance of fighting any infection than someone more frail, which would be the case with most patients the doctors see in hospital.
David, however, didn't know any of this, and he released himself from hospital.
His Pastor prayed over him for healing, his leg straightened up, he walked out without his crutches and went and had a cup of tea.
Mark Tronson asked David McDowell to pass something on to those watching this program, as to faith in Jesus Christ.
"It is an incredible thing to have an understanding of the relationship with God in impossible situations that you have God to call out to," he explained. "In both accidents, my first thought was to cry out to the Lord. I felt safe and secure in the Lord whatever may have been the outcome."
David McDowell and those close to him were overwhelmingly delighted at the Lord's handiwork in his situation.