Drew Rush is living proof that miracles happen.
Shortly after birth 23 years ago, on a Masters Week in Augusta, the young man's parents, David and Jackie Rush, of Thomson, were told by a doctor at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta that their son wasn't going to live.
It was far from the news the couple was expecting, especially since the pregnancy had been "uneventful," said Mrs. Rush.
They had no idea something was terribly wrong with their infant son.
"We thought everything was great; we felt like we were on top of the world with our first baby," exclaimed Mr. Rush, a retired special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and now an investigator with the Columbia County Sheriff's Department. "He was our first child and on top of it, he was a boy, my son. I was ecstatic."
Little Drew at the time had just been in the room with his parents and grandparents.
"We thought everything was just fine," recalled Mrs. Rush when a nurse came into her room at University Hospital and told her she was taking Drew so she and her husband could get some needed rest and sleep. The nurse also indicated she wanted to check the baby for a little breathing difficulty that he seemed to be experiencing.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Rush became alarmed and sent her husband down the hall to make sure everything was all right with their son.
"I don't know what it was, but something just didn't seem right," said Mrs. Rush, who at the time worked as an insurance agent for Ed Clary in Harlem, but who now works at Lenny Schaffer State Farm Insurance office in Thomson.
Mr. Rush soon discovered his son had been rushed into the hospital's intensive care unit. He had been placed underneath an oxygen tent and hooked up to all kinds of medical equipment.
The biggest question in Mr. Rush's mind was why?
"I kept asking them what was wrong with my son and why they were doing all of what they were doing to him," said Mr. Rush, as he relived that time in his life.
Doctors first thought Drew had a heart condition.
They learned differently the next morning.
"Dr. William Kanto of MCG told us he had some good news and some bad news," said Mrs. Rush. "The good news was that it wasn't Drew's heart. The bad news was it was his brain."
The couple soon learned their son had what is known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
Mr. and Mrs. Rush remember Dr. Kanto telling them their baby wasn't going to live.
"The doctor told us that Drew would die if he had the surgery and that he would die if he didn't have the surgery," added Mr. Rush. "We were beside ourselves at the time. It was devastating news. It was a very emotional time for both of us."
After the couple discovered just what they were up against, they were determined not to give up hope.
They soon learned that Dr. J. Parker Mickel had just given a lecture to students at MCG the day before. Mr. and Mrs. Rush wanted desperately to hear what he thought about their son's chances, since he specialized in surgery involving patients with what their son had been diagnosed to have.
Dr. Mickel agreed later that he would perform surgery on Drew. It would be a delicate procedure since he was just a baby. The surgery was performed in Gainesville, Florida at Shands Hospital. Drew underwent extensive brain surgery after being flown there from Augusta.
Mr. and Mrs. Rush already knew that if the AVM was too large, the doctor wouldn't be able to help their son. While their son was undergoing that particular surgery, they stayed at their former residence in Thomson, anxiously awaiting word about whether it was a success or not.
"We tried to get through that time by reassuring each other that it was going to be all right and that God was going to see our son through that surgery," said Mr. Rush.
As it turned out, the surgeon was able to help Drew.
In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Rush say it was Dr. Mickel who saved their son's life.
"Everybody, the doctor and the nurses were just great," said Mr. Rush.
Afterwards, Mr. Rush said he pondered about how he could ever repay that doctor for what he did.
"I wanted to do something to show the man how deeply appreciative my wife and I were for having saved our son's life," added Mr. Rush.
He ended up asking the doctor, now retired, if he'd ever been to The Masters.
"When he said he'd never been, I knew I could get tickets for him to go," explained Mr. Rush. "The doctor came up from Gainesville and stayed with us at our home in Thomson. And the next day we went to The Masters."
That was in 1988.
Today, the couple continues to thank God for sparing their son's life.
While Drew was recuperating from brain surgery, his parents stayed with him for seven weeks -- Mrs. Rush having quit her job and Mr. Rush having taken a leave of absence from his job with the GBI. Family and friends raised money for the Rush family during that time by holding car washes, etc.
"That money kept us afloat until I could go back to work," said Mr. Rush. "We'll never forget all the nice things people did for us during that time. We'll always be grateful."
Since that first surgery, Drew has now undergone 13 others, including open-heart surgery when he was 16. The heart surgery was due to an aneurism. In addition, he also has been through five other medical procedures, too.
Today, Drew, who enjoys adult daycare at The Home Place near Thomson, takes four different medications to control his high blood pressure, as well as two other medications to control seizures, said Mrs. Rush.
Drew graduated from Thomson High in 2009, along with his sister, Lindsay, who now is attending nursing school.
"He had some wonderful teachers," said Mr. Rush. "Drew's special education teachers were phenomenal."
Drew, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on March 21, is a huge fan of country music star George Strait.
He has met Mr. Strait twice -- the first time when his parents carried him to Atlanta when he was 6. Mr. Strait had sent Mr. and Mrs. Rush a return letter after they had requested a chance for their son to meet the star backstage at the concert.
"I love George Strait," said Drew, whose room is decorated with all kinds of gifts portraying one of country music's biggest stars ever.
Drew's favorite song by Strait is I Cross My Heart.
He had the pleasure of dancing to that song with a close friend of his, Jenna Parker, daughter of GBI Special Agent Doug Parker and Mrs. Parker, who live in the Columbia County community of Winfield. The two friends danced together at last year's Junior/Senior Prom at Thomson High.