This article compares and contrasts William Branham stories about Donny Morton with the November 1952 edition of Reader's Digest (Condensed from an article originally published in Chatelaine, and written by Alma Edwards Smith). This story tells of the hope given by William Branham and doctors to Donny Morton and his father, then of Donny's heartbreaking passing. It also tells of how William Branham's "Thus Saith The Lord" failed.
Summary of problems with the story of Donny Morton
William Branham's version of this story told on the tapes is very different from the published article. This gives rise to a number of questions:
William Branham's version
- William Branham said,"The Lord healed him, made him well".
- William Branham said that the boy was wearing shoes "the next day" after he prayed for him.
- William Branham said "it got so he could run, meet his daddy and everything".
- William Branham said that he said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD" the boy will be healed".
The Reader's Digest Article
- Donny never began to improve slightly after the operation.
- Donny was never able to walk or run. The best he was able to do was stretch out his arms in bed to reach for his parents.
- Donny Morton died the same year, unable to fully recover.
If William Branham truly had "THUS SAITH THE LORD" as he claimed, why did it fail?. The gift of discernment, as reported by Reader's Digest article appeared to work correctly but William Branham's claim of healing was false.
|The article when you read it, get ready to cry. It'll just break your heart, (William Branham)|
The testimony of Donny Morton's sister
In Episode 43 of the Off The Shelf podcast, we talked about the story of Donny Morton. On August 25, 2018, Denelda (Morton) Clayton, Donny Morton's sister, left the following comment on the podcast website:
- Donny Morton was my brother and what William Branham said about my brother healing and running to my dad or wearing shoes none of it was true.
We immediately emailed Denelda for clarification of her statement and the following is an excerpt from her email to us:
- Donald was 2 years older than me. ...I know Donald never ran to my father or wore shoes ...I'm sure these things that Branham has said has come out either after my parents died, or they did not know of them because they would of been some upset and made sure the truth was known.
This is further confirmation that William Branham's "Thus Saith The Lord" failed with respect to the healing of Donny Morton.
Summary of Donny Morton's story
Donny Morton developed a rare brain disease while living on a farm in Saskatchewan. The doctors told his parents that the brain tissue was deteriorating, and he only had six months to live. Donny's father, Arthur, had heard of William Branham through two deaf friends who had been healed during his services, and boarded a bus for California with his ailing child.
The author of the Reader's Digest Article records the following about Donny Morton's meeting with William Branham:
- The healer asked no questions, but his eyes searched the boy’s wide blue ones and saw his emaciated, twisted body. “Your son is suffering from a serious brain malady,” he said to Morton. “But do not give up hope. With faith in God’s power, and help from the medical world, your little son will live.”
William Branham recalls the following about his meeting with Arthur Morton, who had no prayer card:
- I Said, 'You come by... started to come part of the way by a sled. And then you went down to the place...to get on a plane, you and your wife, you found out you didn't have even enough money for both of you to come on a bus. And now, Traveler's Aid's a helping you.'"
- And the man like to have fainted. And the Holy Spirit spoke THUS SAITH THE LORD. And the baby got well.
Arthur Morton did find a doctor who could perform the operation. Donny Morton then survived a series of four brain operations, and was declared by the doctors to be on the sure road to recovery. By mid-September Donny Morton was sitting up, and was able to stretch out his arms towards his parents - something he had not been able to do for months. Sadly, Donny contacted pneumonia in October, and passed away on November 2 in his sleep from a combination of pneumonia and meningitis.
One of the closing comments in the Readers Digest article states: "Skeptics will say, “You see? Miracles don’t happen in the 20th century,” But they are wrong." They viewed the miracle not in the failure of the boy to live but in the outpouring of love by those impacted by the plight of the young boy and his loving father.
William Branham's Version of the Story
DEMONOLOGY OWENSBORO.KY 53-1112
- And I brought the little baby up, said, never asked a question but looked right into the little baby's face and said, "You bring this baby from Canada. And you come here by a bus, a Greyhound Bus. Traveler's Aid has helped you." And he'd been there about five minutes. Said, "Traveler's Aid has helped you to get here. And the baby has been to Mayo Brothers and Johns Hopkins. It's got a rare brain disease, and there's no way for them to operate. The baby must die."
- And he started screaming real loud. And I prayed for the little baby. He started crying real loud and started off the platform. He turned around. He said, "What about my baby? Will it ever get well?"
- I said, "That, I don't know, sir." And while I was speaking to him, a vision broke forth. And I said, "Yes, your baby... Three days from now you're going to meet a woman with a--a brown looking, I guess you call it, coat-suit: it's got a coat here and a skirt beneath. And she's black headed. And she's going to tell you of some country doctor that can operate on that baby; and you won't believe it. But that's the only hope that you have, through the mercy of God, and that operation. You let the doctor operate on the baby."
- And he took that baby over there, and the doctor performed the operation absolutely successfully. And the baby come out of it. And so they had the baby around there; it got so he could run, meet his daddy and everything.
- The daddy went back to plant his spring wheat or something another. Now, here's what the "Digest" didn't get (See?), what didn't picture. But we had to know behind, because if you did, that a hospital would bring suit against this paper, and there's where it would be; a slip-up come. Somebody left a window up one night and throwed a draft across the baby. And the baby taken pneumonia and lived about two days with the pneumonia, not with the disease, with the pneumonia killed the baby. The "Reader's Digest" give it. Then it goes ahead and gives a nice good write up about--about the miracle was already performed anyhow.
GOD.PERFECTING.HIS.CHURCH BINGHAMTON.NY 54-1204
- He that receives truth... Here not long ago, you seen the article in the paper of that little Donny Morton being healed out there in California. The "Reader's Digest" packed it, went in every language under heaven, everywhere, about the miracle. Mayo Brothers had turned him down. John Hopkins had turned him down. The little fellow come on the platform and twenty-seven hundred people standing in the prayer line. Assembly of God, place we was having the meeting, out in Costa Mesa, California.
- And when the little fellow come on the prayer line, the book--the "Reader's Digest" wrote it up right. Said, "The evangelist asked no questions. Looked into the child's face and said..." Well, many of you read it. And you know the article.
- And it said, "Why, he looked into... The evangelist's looked into it's face. And never asked no questions. But said, 'You come from Canada. You brought the child. It's been to Mayo's; it's been to John Hopkins. It's got a rare blood disease, a brain disease. There's no cure for it.' And the father started crying.
- Said, 'You come by... started to come part of the way by a sled. And then you went down to the place and when you did... to get on a--to get on a plane, you and your wife, you found out you didn't have even enough money for both of you to come on a bus. And now, Traveler's Aid's a helping you.'"
- And the man like to have fainted. And the Holy Spirit spoke THUS SAITH THE LORD. And the baby got well.
GLORIFIED.JESUS PHOENIX.AZ 55-0225
- Notice, someone then, about a year later, you read the Reader's Digest, of my meeting in California, down there at the campgrounds, when they brought that little Donny Morton. Many of you has read it, no doubt. From Donny Morton, the miracle, when they brought him down out of Canada and give a wonderful write up, how he come to the platform., little fellow, twisted all out of condition. And how, said, the evangelist never asked one question but looked straight at the child, and told him where he come from, how he'd been to Mayo Brother's, and turned down and everything. And just exactly how the outcome of the child would be. And it was just exactly word by word.
ABRAHAM BROOKLYN.NY 56-1208
- Now, I've been interviewed. You read the "Reader's Digest" about a year or something ago, in October a year ago or something like that on the healing of little Donny Morton, that Mayo Brothers had give up. And they brought him to the platform in California, and there the vision showed the little boy was healed (see?), and they packed a big article of it, and I was at Mayo Brothers for an interview. All right.
STAND.STILL.AND.SEE.THE.SALVATION.OF.THE.LORD CHICAGO.IL 57-0629
- It wasn't two years ago, October's this year, the "Reader's Digest," when God made Mayo Clinic stand still and hear the testimony of little Donny Morton on that incurable disease, when he was brought to the platform and the Holy Spirit told him exactly what to do, and God healed the boy there.
- The scientific world, John Hopkins and Mayo's, when I went there, there lay the "Reader's Digest" on their platform, or on their table there, to be read. God made the medical world stand still and see Donny Morton be healed by the power of God.
HEAR.YE.HIM CHATTANOOGA.TN 58-0301E
- Let me just show you a little something. Of all the fine medicines we got (to settle this)... Now, I was interviewed. Many of you read the "Reader's Digest" of the miracle of Donny Morton.
- And I was interviewed at Mayo Brothers Clinic on account of that, 'cause Mayo's had turned him down. And the vision told him who he was, where he come from, what was going to happen. And that's just the way it was, and the baby was healed.
- And they wrote it up in "Reader's Digest."
BE.NOT.AFRAID.IT.IS.I PHOENIX.AZ 60-0305
- Many of you, about three years ago in Reader's Digest, read the article of the miracle of Donny Morton, when I was in Arizona, I mean in California. How the Lord, after Mayo's, and John Hopkins, and all of them had turned that little twisted up baby down, the power of God unfolded that child and made him well. And Mayo's called for an interview for it, wanted to know what happened. Sure. Reader's Digest wrote it up. What happened to little Donny, that little Canadian boy?
- All hopes was gone after Mayo and John Hopkins said the child cannot be healed. But the father said, "Donny, we're not whipped. For not long ago, there was someone here in Canada praying for the operator, long-distance operator. She was in a school, she was deaf and dumb." Like these people setting here. And when--there was two of them went to the meeting at Calgary. And the Lord healed both of them. One of them is a singer in church, and the other one's a long-distance telephone operator.
- He said, "Donny, if God knowed them, He knows you honey, and I'll get you somewhere." He hitched his horse to the sled, down through the snow they went with the mother. And when they got to the place where they was to put the little boy, and his mother, and them on the plane, they didn't have enough money for one to get on the plane. So he found a Greyhound bus that Donny and his father could ride in. It come to Los Angeles, and--and the--some kind of an association helped them to get out to the meeting where we was at, the Assemblies of God out there at the campground, North--or Southwestern Bible School.
- There when the father started in the line with the little baby, said, "There was a young man that had to put him out of the line, because he had no prayer card." That was Billy. Billy was doing that, because it wasn't fair for the man to come in the line, because others had been waiting for days in the prayer line.
- But when the little fellow--I seen him walking off the platform with that little twisted baby. I said, "Let him alone, Billy. Bring him on up here."
- And when the father, trembling, brought the little fellow, and his head sideways, his big eyes cast back in his head, shaking his hands, twisted down, his little legs drawed up behind him, I said, "Sir, if I could heal your baby, I'd do it. :But you're a Canadian, and you've come a long ways, and you're... This little baby's name is Donny Morton."
- The father begin to shake, and he said, "That's true."
- I said, "Do you believe?"
- And he started screaming; he said, "With all my heart."
- He went right straight from that meeting that night and bought Donny his first pair of shoes, and he wore them the next day.
ABRAHAM YAKIMA.WA 60-0803
- When I--I was interviewed at Mayo's Clinic. They said to me, "We do not..." The old Jimmy Mayo in the old Mayo brothers had a thing back there in the office, where you used to have there. They took me back and showed me, when this Donny Morton... How many read the Reader's Digest? When Mayo's had turned him down, and everything, and come out there to California, and down out of Canada... The Lord healed him, made him well.
BALM.IN.GILEAD LONG.BEACH.CA 61-0218
- I was interviewed at Mayo's; you seen it in the "Reader's Digest," and so forth, Donny Morton, was healed up here.
A.GREATER.THAN.SOLOMON.IS.HERE PORT.ALBERNI.BC 62-0725
- When this little Canadian, Donny Morton... You read the story in "Reader's Digest," when they brought him all the way down there so spastic and drawed that John Hopkins, Mayo Brothers, and all, turned him down. And he came down to Costa Mesa, and was in the meeting. And the Holy Spirit spoke. "Reader's Digest" wrote up, said the--said, "The evangelist didn't ask the boy. He told the boy who he was, told him what he had done, and where he come from, and what about it." And he was healed. See?
- And then I was called in at Mayo Brothers for an interview for that, and they said... I said, "Well, I..." They never put Mayo Brothers' name on there, but they--there they had the "Reader's Digest," and it was--the father had said it. But of course the writer wouldn't say that about a hospital, and what it said.
- Many great... If you read the article, said many great clinics through the United States and Canada had turned him down. And a spastic, drawed up, name was Donny Morton. October's "Reader's Digest," about four years ago. And then, he said this little ba... this little boy about eight years old...
- Oh, it's a pathetic story, how this little Canadian brother come down on a sled. He said he knowed some deaf and dumb girls that was brought to my meeting before that, and the Lord healed one. And one of them is a singer in church, and the other one is a telephone operator: So was both deaf and dumb.
- So he said, "We're not whipped, Donny. Let's go and tell..." And the mother and them thought they could maybe take fifty dollars, and all of them come to the United States, and take Donny to the meeting, and everything else. It wouldn't even pay one of their ways on a airplane. They had to come by a bus, couldn't even come by train. And when they got there, they had to take Travelers Aid to get out there to where the meeting was.
- And the Holy Spirit told him who he was, where he come from, and so forth--little drawed-over father, holding his baby. And so... Then it told him exactly what would happen. The Lord healed the child to the glory of God.
HIS.UNFAILING.WORDS.OF.PROMISE PHOENIX.AZ 64-0120
- And you seen it in Reader's Digest, not long ago, Donny Morton, The Miracle of Donny Morton. That little child right there in California, at the Assemblies of God, down there at that school, Southwestern Bible School, that child was so twisted and afflicted till even John Hopkins and Mayo Brothers said, "There's not an earthly chance for him." But the Lord is THUS SAITH THE LORD. That was different, see.
The Readers Digest story
Here is the original story including copies of the pages from the article in Readers' Digest along with our analysis - you are currently on the page that is in bold:
- Summary and analysis of the story of Donny Morton
- Reader's Digest cover - November 1952
- Reader's Digest article page 1 - The problems start
- Reader's Digest article page 2 - Disease and the concern of the parents
- Reader's Digest article page 3 - The sacrifice to get to William Branham
- Reader's Digest article page 4 - William Branham provides hope
- Reader's Digest article page 5 - Hope grows with the help of medical care
- Reader's Digest article page 6 - Sickness returns
- Reader's Digest article page 7 - The final tragedy
On a poverty-stricken farm near the little village of Archerwill in the bleak bushland of northern Saskatchewan lives Arthur Morton, whose desperate search for a miracle that would save his four-year-old son from a hopeless brain condition is a shining epic of devotion, faith, and courage.
The Mortons, Arthur and Ella, already had two children, a boy and a girl, when Donald was born on April 25, 1947. But from the day he arrived a special bond of emotion drew him to his father. They were together every possible moment-while Arthur did the farm chores, called on a neighbor or worked in the garden.
“Donny wasn’t like our other children,” Ella Morton says, eying them affectionately. “They have temper tantrums and get into all sorts of mischief. But Donny was always happy and gay and patient. And he had a wonderful sense of humor for such a little fellow. How he laughed when we played little jokes on him!”
Then one day when Donny was two the Mortons noticed he was limping after his nap. By the time we got him to town the doctor couldn’t find anything.”
Winter closed in and the Morton farm was all but isolated from the outside world. As the weeks went by the limp grew worse, and the handsome, well-built little chap began to lose weight. In the late winter his worried parents saw Donny reach for things and miss them by inches. He couldn’t handle his toys, and he’d run into the furniture and knock things over.
Then he developed a severe intestinal infection. Deeply anxious, the Mortons decided they must chance a trip to the Rose Valley Hospital, 11 miles beyond Archerwill. And so one wintery night Arthur Morton milked the cows, did the chores and set off in the sleigh over rough, snow-blocked roads. It was bitterly cold.
Ella Morton’s heart broke a little that night. She longed to go with her husband and son, but the other children needed her and she was expecting her fourth baby in a few weeks. So she wrapped Donny in warm blankets, made sure there was plenty of wood for the stove in the tiny caboose built on the sleigh, and wished them Godspeed. Down the road Arthur stopped to get a neighbor woman to come along and hold Donny, while he drove the team.
A few miles from home the bright moon which had been lighting the way disappeared and a raging blizzard struck. Arthur tried to turn back, but his trail was completely covered. The wind threatened to topple the caboose and cutter.
When matters seemed at their worst, Donny had a convulsion. Arthur gave the horses their heads and turned full attention to his son. By the time the boy was sleeping, the snowdrifts were so high that the animals couldn’t push through them.
Arthur Morton went out into the blinding snow, urging the horses through waist-deep drifts, keeping the sleigh from tipping, and praying that they were going toward town. About six in the morning, far-off lights blinked through the flying snow. Fearing the cold wind on Donny if he opened the caboose door, the exhausted man clung to the back of the sleigh, trusting the horses to make their way alone. The next thing he was aware of was the flash of lanterns and strong arms helping them all into warmth and safety.
The 11 miles from Archerwill to the 14-bed Rose Valley Hospital were covered in comfort by car, on the open highway. There the doctor recommended that Donny remain a few days for observation. “It was hard for me to leave the little tyke there alone,” Arthur Morton says. “But when I said I’d be back soon, he gave me a big kiss and a grin. He was a plucky kid.”
Donny’s hospital stay lengthened into weeks. He contracted pneumonia and was desperately ill. But his days were made brighter by the arrival of his mother, who presented him with a baby sister.
It was while both parents were at the hospital that the doctor told them the boy’s brain tissue was deteriorating – he would die within six months. There was no treatment he knew of that could help. He suggested they leave Donny in the hospital, but the Mortons would hear none of it. As soon as Ella was strong enough, Donny came home. He was spastic, had frequent convulsions and so much difficulty in swallowing that he ate practically nothing.
Ella gave him a few spoonfuls of baby food or cooked cereal every 20 minutes or so, and Donny began to gain slightly in weight. He could not walk, but he could crawl at a great speed. He had wonderfully happy times with his family, laughing over amusing little games. When the roads were passable he loved to go to church.
Yet the gain was only temporary. “The hardest thing to endure during those weeks,” says Ella, “was to watch Donny, who had always been so robust and healthy, going back to being a baby. Soon the new baby was eating more than he was.”
Summer came, and after the crop was in, the Mortons dipped into their meager savings and took Donny from doctor to doctor in Saskatoon, and then to Regina. Always they gave the same verdict – a hopeless brain disease which would gradually paralyze him more and more until death came.
The Mortons would not accept the word “hopeless.” “When we looked at those trusting blue eyes, we knew we could never give up.” In April 1951 they sold three of their eight cows to pay for a plane ticket to Rochester and the Mayo Clinic. After extensive examinations the verdict was discouraging.
An almost beaten Arthur Morton, and a boy more dead than alive returned to the prairie homestead. But once again, under Ella’s constant care and her gentle coaxing to drink a mouthful of juice or swallow a spoonful of porridge, the boy rallied.
Then Arthur remembered a faith healer, the Rev. William Branham, who had accomplished wonders for two deaf friends with whom he had worked several years before. The Mortons located the evangelist in Costa Mesa, Calif., near Los Angeles, where he was reportedly curing the sick by prayer.
With hopes renewed, they sold more cows; they now had a total of $250. Once again Ella sent them off – the dogged father and the trusting child, now barely able to breathe, and wasted to a frightening 20 pounds. Arthur took $240, leaving Ella $10 with which to manage the family.
At Yorkton, Sask., Arthur found that a plane ticket cost nearly double the amount he had. “Everyone I met said, ‘Go home, you have done all you can.’ And then I’d look at the little tyke in my arms and his eyes would search my face as much as to say, ‘We can beat this thing, the two of us, and I couldn’t go home.”
So he bought a bus ticket, and started off on a nightmarish journey. He chose the back seat where he could cradle Donny in his arms more easily, or lay him on the seat and massage the tiny wasted limbs to ease the muscle spasms.
The supply of baby food soon ran out. At village stops Morton would slip across to a grocery store for suitable food for the lad, but when they stopped at larger centers he had to rely on depot restaurants. Twenty-minute stopovers were too short for the father to choose something his son could swallow, rinse out diapers in the washroom and get lunch for himself. More often than not Arthur went without food or drink.
“Donny couldn’t cry to let me know when he was in pain, or needed something,” says the quiet Morton, “so I had to watch him constantly. When he grew restless I tried to guess his trouble. After a lot of trial and error I became quite proficient.”
In spite of hardships Arthur Morton looks back on that 2800-mile bus trip with happy memories. “We were so close together all the time. Even though Donny couldn’t smile, when I told him funny things that happened along the way his eyes would shine, and I knew that even if we didn’t find our miracle we were both happier that if he had stayed in the hospital waiting to die.”
Morton arrived in Los Angeles in June 1951, 18 months after Donny’s condition had been pronounced hopeless. Now the unflagging faith that had carried them through so many adversities began to be rewarded. Bewildered and nearly penniless, Morton asked Travelers’ Aid to help him find the faith healer. They phoned the Los Angeles Times for information.
The editor asked, “Why in heaven’s name would anyone come all the way from Saskatchewan?” And Travelers’ Aid answered, “Because this man believes that if God helps to heal others He will help his son.”
Here was a rare and wonderful devotion! A reporter was immediately assigned to drive the Mortons to the evangelist’s meeting at Costa Mesa.
At the revival tent people were waiting in line for an audience with the man they hoped would hear their illnesses. But when they saw the slight, haggard man clutching the wasted little form they moved aside and motioned Morton into the tent ahead of them.
The healer asked no questions, but his eyes searched the boy’s wide blue ones and saw his emaciated, twisted body. “Your son is suffering from a serious brain malady,” he said to Morton. “But do not give up hope. With faith in God’s power, and help from the medical world, your little son will live.” Then, while 2700 persons bowed their heads, he prayed to God to save the child’s life. Donny managed a smile for the first time in weeks.
Unbelievable, Arthur’s miracle began to take place. In response to the Times story of the Mortons’ pilgrimage, letters arrived at the newspaper office, among them one from a physiotherapist and child educator. She recommended a noted Pasadena surgeon, Dr. William T. Grant, who had saved her after three years of helplessness following a brain injury, and she offered to assume expenses for his services.
Arthur Morton will always remember the doctor’s words after the examination: “I think this is far from hopeless – if the boy can live through the operation.”
That night Donny was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena. Doubtful that the undernourished, dehydrated child could survive, a small army of specialists stood by with oxygen, whole blood and emergency equipment during the delicate operation on the following morning.
Hours later Donny was wheeled out of the operating theater, still alive! As Arthur Morton joyfully walked beside the stretcher, his eyes greedily devoured the little face, relaxed at last after months of painful, taut expression. There would be many hard days ahead, the doctor cautioned. The boy would need more operations and expensive medications – though the doctors had donated their skill.
Arthur only shook his hand gratefully and grinned. “I don’t know where I’ll get the money, but I will – I promise. After one miracle it’s not hard to believe in another.” The doctor, in response to dozens of phone calls, issued a statement. “The child had a subdural hydroma: a layer of clear fluid that compresses the brain. This morning openings were made in the skull, and a subdural hydroma of moderate size was released from right and left sides. He withstood the operation well.”
The story was flashed across the country by news services. Letters of admiration, sympathy and encouragement poured in to the hospital and newspaper. Most of them contained checks and cash to help with the staggering medical bills. Never once did Arthur Morton ask for a financial handout. He was fighting against desperate odds for his son’s life, and he was willing to pay for victory with years of backbreaking labor if necessary.
A brittle, sophisticated city saw a picture of a dying child, with trusting eyes and a lopsided smile, tenderly cradled in the arms of a poverty-stricken father who clung tenaciously to the belief that God is good, and the city’s heart warmed with a desire to aid these strangers. Extra help was needed at the hospital to attend to the phone calls and mail. One of the desk clerks said happily, “We need two switchboards – one for regular calls, and one for Donny.”
Said Arthur: “Last week we came to a strange city, a strange country even, where we didn’t know a soul. Now when I walk down the street folks come up to me, shake my by the hand and ask me, ‘How’s the boy?” When they walk off, I look down and there is money in my hand.”
During the anxious days, Arthur was always at the boy’s bedside, encouraging him in a constant flow of chatter. Donny’s eyes, when open, never left his father’s face, and his frail hand, when he slept, still clutched Arthur’s.
The crisis came Saturday night. Donny showed signs of weakening and the doctors were summoned. But once again the combined forces of a father’s faith and the wonders of modern medicine coaxed the tiny life back from the valley of death, and the lad fell into a healing sumber just as dawn broke over the city. The anxious staff of St. Luke’s Hospital uttered a little prayer of thanksgiving for the plucky little fighter.
Then came the wonderful day when the doctor said with cautious optimism, “Donny Morton is going to get well.” The Los Angeles Times put through a call to Archerwill. “Donny is going to get well.” Arthur cried to his wife 2800 miles away. “He weighs 23 pounds now.” Sobs of joy and relief were Ella’s answer.
A second operation to relieve pressure was necessary, and after the child spent six hours on the operating table another long vigil began. When the boy became restless Arthur would take the fumbling hand and murmur, “I’m here, Donny.” His constant presence was considered a vital factor in the child’s survival.
Western Airlines decided the best reinforcement for a little fellow facing his third brain operation would be his mother, and they flew her to Los Angeles. The other children were left with a relative. Warmhearted Saskatchewan neighbors took care of the haying. Four days after his third operation the boy was pronounced out of danger. In mid-September a gay leave-taking was held in the St. Luke’s Hospital sunroom. Donny could now sit up and reach out his arms to his parents in the first definite response since his surgery. He weighed 35 pounds. But his muscles were so badly atrophied, and the tendons so shrunk from inactivity, that another operation and many weeks of costly treatments were still needed. Donny was left behind, in the capable hands of the Pasadena physiotherapist who had first befriended him.
At home, radio station CKOM launched a “Donny Morton Fund” for the leg treatments. Children brought change from their piggy banks; a blind man gave five dollars; two orphans gave their birthday money. More that $900 was raised, not as charity but as a medal for the shining glory of a father’s faith and courage.
And then one day late in October a newscast informed radio listeners that Arthur Morton had flown to the coast to be with his son again. After surviving four critical brain operations, Donny – with tragic irony – had contracted pneumonia.
Donny’s oxygen tent was removed as his father, haggard with anxiety, bent close to the little form and coaxed, “Donny, Daddy’s here. Come on, tyke, you’re going to pull out of this.”
But on November 2 Donny Morton died in his sleep, defeated in the end by an inexorable combination of pneumonia and meningitis.
Skeptics will say, “You see? Miracles don’t happen in the 20th century,” But they are wrong. The personal miracle Morton sought – that his child’s life be saved – was denied. But out of his search for it came another miracle, because this Saskatchewan farmer’s selfless and unquestioning pilgrimage across half a continent stirred the hearts of thousands. There are plans for a new wing to be built on St. Luke’s Hospital, to further the advancement of children’s brain surgery, and reports of a book and a movie that would spread the story of Donny Morton. Arthur and Ella have dedicated in advance every dollar of the royalties to helping children who need care beyond their parents’ ability to pay.
The Pasadena surgeon who operated on the boy has made this statement:
“Donny Morton is dead, and it would seem that the tenacious struggle of the child and his father had not been justly rewarded. But the case of this one boy has brought to light the fact that there are hundreds of Donny Mortons; and some of the cases since discovered are already on the road to recovery. Arthur Morton’s unselfish devotion has not given him back his little boy, but it has opened the way for many other patients to receive adequate treatment.”