Father first, Lt. Governor second

Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley

When Brian Calley was asked by Rick Snyder to be his running mate in Michigan’s race for governor in 2010, he probably thought he was undertaking the biggest challenge of his life. After all, at 34, Calley would be the second youngest Lt. Governor in Michigan’s history. Despite the Republican tsunami sweeping the nation that year and a state suffering the worst economy in the nation, nothing is a sure thing in the heavy union Great Lakes State.

But win they did, and in January, Brian Calley was sworn in as Michigan’s Lt. Governor.

In July of 2011, though, Lt. Governor Calley underwent an experience that made the hardships of a political career pale by comparison. Calley’s youngest daughter, one year old Kara, suffered three cardiac arrests while undergoing a heart catheterization process. The next twenty-four hours would keep the second most powerful man in Michigan on his knees.

Brian Calley is no stranger to praying for God’s mercy. His oldest daughter, Reagan, was diagnosed with autism. Even before his daughter’s diagnosis, Brian Calley has been a tireless fighter for autism reform in Michigan’s insurance regulations. In Michigan, autism treatment isn’t covered under most insurance plans. Even during his two terms as state legislature, he has been pushing for reform, often against the conservative grain of his fellow Republicans.

But on Tuesday, July 26th, Brain Calley’s prayers were for Kara. And so were the prayers of thousands of Michiganders. As Calley kept his followers updated on facebook, Democrats and Republicans alike waited, all praying for a little girl and a family who would give up all they had gained if God would spare their child. The day before, Calley started with a post about the routine procedure that was about to take place. As the day progressed, events turned tragic:

  • July 25th,  5:56pm: Tomorrow at 7:00 am Julie and I will bring our baby daughter back to UofM for a heart cath. Her Echo last week revealed a leaking valve and a leaking patch. The purpose of this procedure is to establish a plan for how to fix the remaining problems. She still looks good but her vital trends are going in the wrong direction. Will update her progress here tomorrow.
  • July 26th, 6:58am: At the hospital, checking Kara in for the heart cath.
  • July 26th, 12:07pm: The heart cath is done, and while she is not yet in recovery, we have been told everything went as planned. They did not attempt any procedures, but rather just investigated exactly what is happening. We will speak to the doctor this afternoon about what comes next.
  • July 26th, 4:23pm: The results of Kara’s heart cath were actually pretty good in that there are medication changes that they will try next (instead of surgery). However, they have not been able to get the bleeding to stop from her neck and leg. She is sedated now and will remain so until they figure out what is happening there. Kara is getting checked into the Pediatric ICU for the night 🙁
  • July 26th, 5:45pm: Kara is getting settled into ICU. Julie will stay tonight and I will be home with our other two kids. Her bleeding continues due to an earlier medication issue. They are keeping her sedated to minimize the bleeding, but her blood pressure is also an issue due to the sedation. They seem confident that they will have it under control by tomorrow.
  • July 26th, 6:15pm: Urgent Prayer Request: My heart is breaking as I write this. Kara has crashed twice. What was thought to be routine is at a very life threatening stage. Kara is fighting for her life right now. They may put her on the heart and lungs machine soon.
Brian Calley continued the updates for the next three hours:
  • July 26th, 6:33pm: Surgeons have been called to connect her to the heart and lungs machine.
  • July 26th, 7:11pm: Kara had two cardiac arrests, one of which came with significant fluid drowning the lungs. They set up for connection to the heart and lungs machine but then she became stable.
  • July 26th, 7:29pm: She has stabilized without the heart and lungs machine. They have all the leads and lines into her to manage things aggressively now. She is on the ventilator as well.
  • July 26th, 8:50pm: Not much planned here at the hospital for the rest of the night. They will run many tests tomorrow to check for damage from the arrests. Procedures like today are normally routine, but an issue with a medication administered for the heart cath started a terrible chain of events. The bleeding has stopped and she looks peaceful now. Thank you for all your prayers.
  • July 26th, 9:07pm: I just learned that Kara had three cardiac arrests earlier tonight, not two. Thank God she is now stable. This is, by far, the scariest thing I have ever been through.
Kara was finally moved out of ICU on July 30th and was home on August 1st. During the entire ordeal, The Governor’s office received thousands of phone calls from elected officials and constituents from both parties, offering prayer and support for the Calley family.
Today, Kara is doing well. Her sister, however, fights a never-ending battle with autism. Therefore, Brian Calley’s fight continues as well. It’s not as heart wrenching as watching continuous facebook updates while his youngest lay in surgery, but the stakes are just as high. For those of you who’d like to join Lt. Governor Calley in his fight for insurance regulations to help parents of autistic children, or maybe encourage such reform in your own state, feel free to contact our Lt. Governor on his facebook page. He’s always posting and yes, he even responds. Or click on the link below to see his video about insurance reform.



I am a husband, dad, Christian, and writer. Not necessarily in that order. It took me thirty years to turn my life over to my Redeemer. It's taken another ten to figure out what it is He has in store for me. My first novel, Now I Knew You, will be released in March, 2015. I pray that God will allow me to write many more before calling me home.

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  1. Really touched by this post. Even though the comments aren’t there, this was the most read post so far. Thousands have logged on to read it!

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