As the man plucked the latex gloves from his hands, I shook his hand as warmly as I could muster. “Greetings, doctor.”
“Forgive me for being short, but we’re low on time,” Doctor Greene curtly informed me. As blinding confusion and panic mixed together in my mind, he immediately turned to Cole. “Mr. Andrews, there’s been a development. We have got to get you into surgery immediately. Do you consent to a double lung transplant?”
“I…what?” He stammered. “Yes, of course…but…how?”
“We have an organ donor who suffered a fatal accident tonight. Some of his torso was, compromised in the accident…but his lungs in particular are viable. I’ll warn you, they are only a near match. While you would ordinarily never be given a transplant under these conditions, the proximity of the donor and the fact that you are one floor down from the operating room has moved you to the front of the transplant list. Because your disease has brought you to the brink of death, your weakened and compromised immune system may reduce the likelihood of rejection. Although experimental in nature, it is possible that with further immunosuppressant…”
“Done…” Cole groaned before a quizzical look crossed his face. The doctor cut him off as he opened his mouth to ask something that seemed pressing.
“Keep in mind, Mr. Andrews, that this is a potentially lethal procedure. We will take every care and measure to preserve your life, but…the risk is there.”
“Doc, after tonight…I’d be dead either way,” Cole replied, his breathing still horribly labored. “Do it. I’ll sign…whatever you have for me. But…I need to know something.”
“We don’t have much time,” he impatiently remarked.
“I understand that,” Cole answered. “But…my God. Somebody had to die…to save me. Doctor, I have to…know his name…do you know who it was?” A look of pity and conflict clouded his features.
“Yes,” Doctor Greene answered calmly, his cold eyes glimmering behind the glasses. “But we do need to get you prepped immediately, and patient confidentiality requires…”
“I don’t give a damn about your patient confidentiality. You know who I am. You know what I can do. I’m dying and I want to know the name of the person who just saved my life.”
The Doctor paused for a moment, glancing around the room before speaking again with a slackened look upon his face. “It was a motorcyclist. I believe his name was Jerry Hi…no,” he said, glancing down at the paperwork in his hands, “Larry Higgins.”
We didn’t have time to be in shock, or time to wonder how this happened. Doctor Greene quickly explained the possible complications, but was surprisingly confident that the procedure would not only save his life, but also possibly – possibly – stop the disease at the source. There was a chance Cole would reject the transplant, but I could see fire in Cole’s eyes. We were out of time, but clearly, Cole had something to live for.
Cole was prepped almost immediately, signing a brisk form and being quickly put under heavy sedation. Afterwards, he was wheeled behind the swinging double doors for emergency transplant surgery. I followed along as far as they’d let me go, before I stopped at those sterile, official doors, afraid that my husband was going to bleed out on the operating table.
I tracked down Alphonse, and I updated them him on the situation. Even the hospital staff seemed stunned at this sudden change of events, and all we could do was quietly wait for a few hours.
After all of the sharp, blindsiding turns of the night, I was completely and utterly drained. It had started so simple, and yet now I was living in an endless nightmare with sudden, unexplained compromises. I knew I needed to sleep, but my mind just couldn’t let me. Nor did I want it to.
Instead, I paced idly, trying to keep myself preoccupied.
But questions nagged.
Larry’s death broke my heart. I barely believed that it could be true. He was a good man, and far too young for this to have happened. He deserved a long, fulfilling life, and his entitled slice of the pie. The business deal was secured – the company would be sold to Alphonse Megami, and now the one person I wanted more than anything to enjoy the coming rewards was the one man who couldn’t.