POCATELLO — When 97-year-old Pocatello resident Ida Gigger was diagnosed with terminal kidney disease last year, she told her doctor her dying wish was to live long enough to see the opening of the new Pocatello Idaho Temple. 

It was a big ask for someone with her condition. Gigger has end-stage kidney disease, and according to her physician Dr. Fahim Rahim, a local kidney specialist, her treatment options were limited because of her fragile age. 

Rahim said he has used every tool in his toolbox in treating Gigger with the hope of helping her reach her goal of being well enough to tour the much-anticipated new temple, which will host a public open house starting on Sept. 18 after two years of construction. 

Having treated many patients in Gigger’s shape in his 22 years as a kidney specialist, it would take a miracle, Rahim thought, to turn her health around. Gigger has been on various medications, undergone procedures and taken several trips to the hospital in the past year. 

Most people her age fighting a terminal illness with such a short life expectancy wouldn’t be so optimistic. But Gigger, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pocatello, has had her heart and prayers set on stepping foot in the Pocatello temple. 

“I want to live long enough to make one session in there,” Gigger said, smiling and pointing to the towering white temple as she sat outside the building for an interview with the Idaho State Journal on Thursday. “I want to live that long.”

Before Gigger was diagnosed with kidney disease, she was considered healthy. She lived by herself and was more independent than most people who are nearing their 100th year of life.

That all changed last year when her kidneys began to fail.

In April 2021, Rahim reached out to Larry Fisher, the local church’s communications director, to tell him about Gigger’s dying wish. He thought then that Gigger only had a few weeks to live.

Rahim hoped Fisher could arrange something for her, even though the temple was still just a construction site. 

Gigger spent weeks after that struggling with her health, with all odds and the science of her illness stacked against her. But to Rahim's surprise, her condition eventually stabilized and improved.

Rahim said the positive change in Gigger, who he says has evolved from a patient to a friend of his, was a miracle. 

“For her to be able to live this long, almost a year, with advanced kidney failure is truly nothing short of a miracle,” Rahim said. “When she came to me, she was dying and her biggest goal in life was to get to the temple. 

“I did what I could with my knowledge and expertise, controlling her blood pressure, medications and other elements of care and nutrition. But the rest was fate — her faith acting and making sure that this happens for her.”

Fisher, who said he's looking forward to Gigger's attendance at the temple's open house next month, called it “really a miracle that she's still around.” 

“There’s a higher power that helps us all, regardless of faith, and it definitely was manifested here with Ida,” he said of Gigger’s recovery. 

While there are still a few weeks to go until the new temple opens, Rahim is confident Gigger will be there.

“We're still a month away and nobody knows what it will bring,” he said. “But really — and I’m saying this as a physician and as a scientist — I think it truly is miraculous what’s happened here. Something wanted her to be here, and I was just an instrument.”