Chapter 23 - Survival
Life can be a tricky thing, it's full of endless possibilities and riddles that no one quite knows the answer to. The best day of your life can change into the worst, with a click of a finger, but there is no real secret when it comes to surviving. Doctors can tell you all the medical jargon in the world, you can eat all the right things, believe in any spiritual or religious guy you want and you can fight with every fiber of your being but it won't change the inevitable outcome. What it really comes down to is the cells inside of you and how they work as a system to keep you going. You can have the strongest will, the toughest physique or even the best medical care anyone can offer you, but when it comes down to it, if those little cells decide they can't cope then that's it. You're gone.
The weakest human being can have the strongest cells backing their corner where as the strongest fittest lad, can have the weakest. Medical teams like to pretend they know what will happen, the outcome of events, but deep down they don't have a clue if there is light at the end of the tunnel or an ever falling darkness. They are living in the same moment as everyone else. All the signs can point to death and the person will live another twenty years, or they can say that everything will be fine and the person is dead ten minutes later. The sad truth is no one really knows what will happen unless you're a writer of a story, and even then the ending can be nothing like what was originally planned. I don't believe in fate, that the universe decides whether someone lives or dies. I mean what gives anyone, let alone something in the stars, the right to decide that? The cells however, they know before any human, be it the patient, their family or even a doctor. They know how long they can fight for, what they can withstand and how much they can heal and when it comes to the point they think, 'enough I cannot do this', then there's not really much you can do. Cells provide life, but they can also take it away in an instant.
"Before I do this, I need to know. Are you sure? Are you sure there is nothing you can do to save my baby boy? Please? If there is anything, I can get the money, I'll work 24 hours a day if that's what it takes."
"I'm sorry but when his heart stopped, it just took too long to get it restarted. We can run the test again if you want, but honestly it will just give you false hope, he was starved of oxygen for too long, there is no brain activity."
The term 'brain dead' describes a patient whose cells inside their brain have been too badly damaged to survive. The lungs can inhale and exhale air through the help of the machine, the heart can carry on beating, the kidneys, liver, and stomach, can all be completely healthy, but due to a lack of oxygen or an injury to a certain area of the brain, it's shut itself down. While your body is physically still there, your spirit, your mind, your soul has been ripped away with no hope of returning, for if one system is faulty, the rest of your body cannot function without it.
"So there's nothing you can do? No medical trials? Nothing? That's just it?"
"Yes, that's it, I'm afraid that there is nothing which can help him now, I'm sorry but he's gone. The kindest thing to do is to just let him go. "
What makes things so difficult is when one horrible event leads to the death of a patient; it can be the savior for others. Those who are in need of new organs can be given someone else's, a transplant, where the organs of one person are cut out of them and given to another. Some peoples only chances of survival, comes down to families hoping that another parent will have their child ripped away from them. For someone else with the same blood type to have their brain be so damaged that it's beyond repair and then for that persons next of kin to consent to donating their body parts.
For some, those who are not in the situation, it seems a simple enough decision, if they are dead already, then what's the point of those organs going to waste when they can change so many other people's lives. But for those facing it, it's a completely different matter.
"My head hears what you're saying… my heart is another matter entirely. How can I just accept that he's not coming back?"
"I understand that, and if you need more time, then I'll leave, there is no rush."
"Except there is...for him to save other people, there is. Isn't there?"
"For the potential recipients, I won't lie to you, yes there is, but if you're not ready to say good bye… then you're not ready."
When it comes down to it, how can you ever accept your child is gone, when their heart still beats and their chest still rises and falls. Dead means stone cold and lifeless, an empty cavity where nothing works, not warm and breathing with blood still pumping to every part of their bodies. A donor's parent would need to consent to having their child's body torn open while they are technically still alive and have every little part of them removed, till they were just an empty cavity of wasted tissue and bone.
Turning off the life support machine is one thing but sending them to a surgery that will be their death is another entirely. The hope that they will wake up, that their survival instincts will kick in and they will fight for life as soon as the machine stops doing it for them, is something that no one can deny having. The natural end is something most people need in order to accept that someone who has been declared brain dead is really gone. Not having it is one of the hardest things in the world and to the people who have that strength to sit back and look at a bigger picture, rather than the reality that they're really facing, are one of the bravest of them all.
To sign away your child's organs, is the most selfless act anyone can ever choose to do.
"Give me the paper."
"Are you sure?"
"No… but I've hidden away for far too long, I've been needy, and a coward for far too long. Its time I stepped up…You say he won't feel anything?"
"Not a thing, I know it's hard to accept but he's already dead."
"Then… you have my consent… but on one condition."
The guilt you feel, for wanting this to happen to some family is worse than anyone can possibly imagine. To dream another child dies in order for yours to survive is unthinkable. Yet you can't help but think just that. Human beings are selfish by nature and all they want is to hear the news that there is a match for their little boy or girl, no matter their age. It's why you have such a massive respect for the people who can step up and put their own needs to one side. Because until you have been though it, you can't have any idea how difficult the whole situation is.
"Dr Dorian, I'm glad you're still here" An older man spoke out as he walked into the children's ward, two nurses following closely behind him. JD gave a soft smile to the man as he gently stood up and placed his baby back into the incubator. " Dr Cox." The man then added as an afterthought, giving a nod to the sacred heart attending who very rarely left the corner of the little yellow room. He had to admire his dedication to the younger man, even if he spent half his time denying JD meant anything to him.
"Where else would I be, I swore to Kim I'd be the best father Sammy could ever want and she would be pretty damn pissed if I left him on his own." JD replied with a smirk, trying to hide the speed his heart beet had increased to, it almost felt like it was about to burst out of his chest with nerves as his palms started to sweat. Doctors never came into a ward with other staff unless there was a serious reason behind it. If all of his years as a Doctor had taught him one thing, it was how to recognize when people were just there, or coming at you in a pack.
"I'm sure she would." The guy shot back, a warm feeling spreading though him at seeing the young man finally cracking a joke. "We have some good news for you… we've found a match, Sammy is about to get some new kidneys."
With that he indicated for the nurses behind him to walk over to the premature baby and start preparing him for surgery and gathering up the necessary information as he himself took a seat in front of the incubator and signaled for JD to do so as well.
"It's a bit of a race against time for them to still be liable, but if we take Sammy down to the theater now, there shouldn't be any problems. The donor is very young himself and a perfect match, so hopefully there won't be any issues with rejecting the kidneys. I'm sure you know how this whole procedure works but have you any questions?"
For a moment, it didn't look like the younger man was going to say a word, as he just stared blankly at the Doctor who had been treating Sammy since the moment he was born. He was shaking slightly as his mouth dropped open and he tried to take the information he'd just been told in. Then ever so slowly his face broke in to a massive grin as he released a breathe he didn't even know he was holding and glanced towards his mentor.
"Is this actually happening?"
"It's happening!" Dr Cox replied with a small smile and diverted his eyes back to the surgeon in charge, signaling JD should do the same.
"He's getting some kidneys?" JD said hesitantly, breathing deeply and straightening himself up in his seat. Unsure of how to react or even how to feel as the stomach churning dread that had been settled in his stomach for nearly 3 weeks started to lift and swish and change into something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"He is." The doctor replied, giving the younger man a reassuring smile before he reached out and squeezed JD's leg slightly. The younger man gave a half laugh half chocked back sob at that as he covered his mouth with his shaking hand and broke into the biggest grin he'd worn in a good while.
"Holy crap!...What's the donor's name? I'd like, I'd like to register it as Sammy's middle name, kind of as a tribute, so he lives on." JD quickly asked, his smile growing bigger and bigger by the second as the nurses got ready to wheel the little boy out.
"Thomas Leatherman, but the mother has requested she has no further contact with any of the recipients, so I'm sure I don't have to tell you about respecting people's wishes." He replied, before turning his clip board over and presenting JD with a consent form. "Do we have your consent for this operation to take place?"
It didn't even take the new father, three seconds to grab hold of the chart, grab the attached pen and sign his signature in all the right places, his body shaking in excitement as he handed the form back. With another nod, the Doctor got to his feet, noted down Sammy's stats, before clearing the way for the incubator to be rolled towards the exit.
"Sammy Perry Thomas Dorian has a nice ring to it doesn't it?" JD almost squealed, as he placed one final kiss on his sons head as he was taken away before turning back around to face one of his son's namesakes.
"Yeah…" The attending replied quietly, his attention solely focused on the spot they had last seen a young woman not so long ago. "Yeah it does."
Or know the relief you feel when the light at the end of the tunnel, suddenly seems that little bit closer, even if at the time you don't manage join all the dots up right away.
(A/N) Was really unsure about how this was written and how it went, but the story has been on the sacred heart gang for a while now and felt like JD needed a chapter, though it turned out a little differently than what was in my head. Hope you guys liked it :)