The Good Times Will Come Again

, , , , , , , , | Hopeless | December 22, 2017

(We’ve been seeing one of our patients regularly for the six years I’ve worked in this intensive care unit, and according to my coworkers he’s been a fixture since he was four months old. He’s 15 now, suffering from a serious heart condition and awaiting a transplant. He’s one of the politest, funniest, and genuinely nicest young men I have ever come across. Today, finally, he’s getting his new heart. Typically organ donation is done completely anonymously in Australia, and we aren’t legally allowed to tell anyone who their organs came from. In this case, the heart is coming from a 19-year-old boy who was killed by a drunk driver. As uncommon as it is, he was brought to our hospital and his parents have agreed to turn off his life support and donate his organs, so his parents are still hanging around saying their final goodbyes after surgery. The procedure goes well and our 15-year-old patient is asleep in his room, 18 hours after surgery. I’ve just finished some paperwork and am sitting at the nurses station chatting to some of the nurses. The 19-year-old’s parents have come out of their son’s room and asked if there is anything left to sign. My colleague is walking them through the final forms for the funeral home when the alarms start sounding for our 15-year-old patient. Several of us break into a dead sprint and go to help him. We burst into his room all at once to find him sitting up in bed, absolutely mortified.)

Me: “[Patient], what’s happening? Are you feeling okay?” *I start checking him over*

Patient: “Yes! Everything is fine! I’m fine!”

(I hear a giggle from behind me and look down. The poor kid has a pillow across his lap and a box of tissues next to him on the bed. I deduce that he has been “test-driving” his new heart, and we all slink out of the room, leaving him on his own to deal with his embarrassment. As we come back to the desk, one of the nurses tells the others what happened. From behind us, we hear a short laugh. We turn and see the 19-year-old’s parents, both struggling to contain their laughter.)

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry; I didn’t know you were there.”

(They break into uproarious laughter. It’s infectious, and eventually we’re all laughing. The 19-year-old’s mother eventually catches her breath enough to speak.)

Mother: “I’m sorry; I know it’s all supposed to be anonymous, but we know he ended up with our boy’s heart. Honestly, with the amount of time he spent in the bathroom as a teenager, I can’t think of anything more true to his memory than what that young man was doing!”

(It might have scared the h*** out of us when it was happening, but that teenager gave some good people a great laugh, exactly when they needed it.)

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