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The Heart Never Forgets

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“Code blue, trauma one.  Code Blue, Trauma one.”

 

“We’re losing him.  Get the paddles.  Eva, bag him.  Shane, get the OR on the phone and tell them to get a room ready,”  Dr. Baylor said as he hovered over the man’s body, urgently compressing his chest.  “If he’s not in surgery in the next 10 minutes, there’s no chance he’ll survive.  Call down to the lab. Tell them to get him typed as fast as they can and have blood ready to transfuse.”

 

A nurse wheeled the crash cart up to the edge of the gurney and flipped on the defibrillator.  Dr. Baylor turned the dial and prepared to shock the patient in an attempt to restart his heart.  He’d been brought into the emergency room twenty minutes prior with a stab wound to the neck. Dr. Baylor and his trauma team had been trying to stabilize the man enough to access the damage, when his vitals crashed.

 

“Clear!”  Dr. Baylor said as he brought the paddles to the man’s chest.  His body jerked as the electricity coursed through his body.

 

“Nothing,”  Eva said from beside Dr. Baylor,

 

“Again.  Clear.”  Dr. Baylor shocked the man several more times before the man’s heart again began to beat.

 

Signing, the doctor stepped away from the gurney and pulled off his gloves.  He ran his hand through his hair in frustration.  “Get him up to surgery.  I’m pretty sure he has an arterial injury.  Looks close to the spine, as well.  Order a  CT scan and MRI.”

 

Dr Baylor left the room to go talk to the family.

 

~

 

“He’s lost a lot of blood.  His heart stopped, but we were able to get it going again.  He’s on his way to surgery now.  We won’t know anything more until he’s in recovery,”  Dr. Baylor said to a very distraught young man.  He’d come in with the patient, covered in blood and screaming hysterically for someone to help.

 

“Is he going to make it?”  the man asked.

 

Dr. Baylor hated this part of the job.  He hated crushing the look of hope on the faces of his patient’s loved ones, but he refused to be one of those doctors that candy coated the truth.  It only made things harder if things didn’t turn out the way they wanted.

 

“What’s your name, young man?”  Dr. Baylor asked.

 

“Adam.”

 

“Adam, I’m going to be completely honest with you.  It doesn’t look good.”  Dr. Baylor looked down at the patient’s chart.  From the moment the guy ended up in his trauma, he hadn’t looked at the guy’s name.  He scanned the chart before looking back at Adam.  “Trevor has an arterial wound and possible spinal cord injury.  We’ll know more when he’d out of surgery, but there’s a very, very strong chance that Trevor won’t survive.  You need to prepare yourself for that possibility.”

 

Dr. Baylor gently grasped Adam’s shoulder in comfort as the man broke down at his feet.

 

~

 

“Dr. Baylor, this is Dr. Davidson,”  The voice on the other end of the phone sounded exhausted.  It was expected.  Dr. Davidson was the vascular surgeon on call.  Dr. Baylor had called him in to tend to Trevor’s emergency surgery. “I’ve got news on your trauma patient.”

 

Dr. Baylor had been correct in his assessment.  Trevor had a mildly severed carotid artery.  Dr. Davidson was able to repair the artery.  However, following the surgery the doctor had received some less than stellar news.  Trevor did in fact have a spinal cord injury.  Despite Dr. Davidson’s efforts, Trevor was brain dead.

 

“Thank you, Dr. Davidson.  I’ll inform the family.”  Dr. Baylor hung up the phone.  Adam was the only person that had shown up at the hospital.  He’d have to go inform him of Trevor’s condition and allow for time to contact other family.  Trevor was still breathing with assistance.  Dr. Baylor would allow the family to say goodbye before he called in the procurement team.

 

Some good would come out of Trevor’s tragedy.  He was an organ donor.  In death, Trevor would save multiple lives.

 

~

 

Adam crept slowly into the room.  The Trevor he’d loved with all of his heart lie motionless on the bed in front of him.  The only sound coming from the room was the sound of the artificial breathing machine and heart monitor.  Though his body was alive, the energy that had been there before was noticeably absent.  

 

Sitting next to Trevor, Adam took his hand and intertwined their fingers.  It was only hours before that they’d been walking down the street on the way home from a late night dinner, fingers intertwined just the same.  Thanks to a random act of violence, they’d never hold hands again.

 

They’d stupidly taken a shortcut home, in a hurry to be alone.  They didn’t live in the greatest part of town, but they’d never seen anything unsavory happen.  Until it did.  Trevor had been stabbed in the neck by a masked man trying to steal their wallets.  Instead of just handing it over, Trevor had fought back and paid with his life.

 

“What am I going to do without you?”  Adam asked, tears blurring his eyes and falling down his cheeks.  “I was going to ask you to marry me on your birthday.  Did you know that?  I had it all planned out.  I was going to cook for you and then take you back to where we met.  Do you remember that ridiculously dusty studio?  I was going to cover it in rose petals and candles.  I was going to get down on my knee and ask you to spend forever with me.’

 

Adam stood up and leaned over Trevor.  He put his head in the center of Trevor’s chest and sobbed.  The life he’d had planned was over in an instant.  

 

He didn’t know how long he’d cried, but when the nurse came back into the room to tell him it was time, he was stuffy, swollen, and had an incredibly painful headache.

 

He leaned in and kissed Trevor on the corner of his mouth.  Adam whispered into his ear.  “I guess it’s time for you to go be someone else’s hero, just like you’ve always been mine.  Goodbye, my love.”

 

Kissing Trevor one last time, Adam stood and walked past the nurse, out of the room and straight to the elevators.  He needed to be alone.  The universe had crushed his soul that night, and taken away the only man he’d ever love.  Adam’s heart had died with Trevor.

 

~

 

“Hello?”  Tommy said as he answered his cell phone.

 

“Hi, Tommy.  This is Candice at Unity General Hospital Transplant Department.  Dr. Wallace wanted me to call.  We have good news for you.”

 

“You found one?”  Tommy asked, unable to hide the hope in his voice.  

 

“Yes, Tommy.  We did.  We need you to come as soon as possible.  Time is of the essence.”

 

“I understand.  I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

 

“We’ll be waiting,”  Candice said before hanging up the phone.

 

Tommy couldn’t believe it.  His body was in shock.  They’d finally found one. He’d waited almost two years and was almost to the point of losing hope, but he’d just received the most important phone call of his life.  Tommy was finally getting his new heart.

 

Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a hardening and enlarging of the heart muscle that had been inherited from one of Tommy’s parents.  He had begun to develop symptoms around puberty.  He had been short of breath, even when doing the simplest of physical activity.  He’d suffered from mild chest pain.  By the time he was sixteen, he’d begun to swell around the ankles, the skin discolored from the pooling blood that this heart couldn’t pump effectively.  By twenty-one, Tommy’s heart was twice the size it should have been, and he was in full congestive heart failure.  He’d been told that without a new heart, he wouldn’t live to see twenty-five.  The universe had finally answered his prayers a week before his twenty-third birthday.

 

Tommy called his mother and told her the good news.  She instantly burst into happy, scared and relieved tears.  If all went well, she wouldn’t have to bury her baby boy for a very long time.

 

He packed a small bag and cleaned up his apartment as he waited for his mother.  It would be a while before he’d be back to his cozy little home.   It would take three to six months to fully recover from heart transplant surgery, if there are no complications.  He’d be in the hospital for at least two weeks, and he’d have to stay with his mother until he was healed enough to drive, which would take about six more weeks.  He wouldn’t be allowed to return to work for at least three months, so he’d made sure he had enough money in savings to pay for his apartment while he was recovering.

 

A soft knock on the door told him it was time to go.  He made a final lap around the apartment, turning off all the lights, and unplugging most of the electronics.  Picking up his bag and throwing it over his shoulder, he opened the door to greet his mother.

 

“Hey, Ma.”

 

“Hey, Tommy.  Ready to get this show on the road?”

 

“As ready as I’ll ever be,”  Tommy said as he took one last, longing look around his apartment.  He sighed. It was the day Tommy stopped waiting for death, and began anticipating life.