That One patient who changes your perspective, Forever.
Final year MBBS, Grant Government Medical College, Mumbai
Hello there! Hi, I am Dr Anand Jaichand, a 2nd-year Emergency Medicine Resident, from GMC, Puducherry. I just wanted to share an incident that happened to me. So hold on to your seats and brace yourselves, here we go.
It was like just another day, rather just another terrifically tiring Thursday.
It was half-past midnight, yet the Emergency Ward where, many were counting their last breaths, was, ironically, full of life.
Ten tables are arranged in the room, in three rows, which is just sufficient to accommodate them, with IV stands and short tables in between, the patients were overflowing and their relatives were overcrowding.
The air smelled of crushed hopes, trampled expectations & bruised wishes, also, a little betadine here, a little sterilium there.
As I was busy scribbling down some notes on an Acute MI patient’s file, I heard some commotion outside the gate. And I mentally prepared myself, talking to myself, that just one last patient then off I go and have a good night’s sleep: After all I deserve at least this much after this arduous 12hr Shift!
I smiled to myself and blushed a little, since tomorrow finally, after a million years, we were going on a date. Of course, I had to take her out; it was my fiancé’s birthday.
A known voice broke me off from my lucid daydream. It was Renu, my junior & intern. Before I could ask why the chirpy Renu’s face was all tensed up, sweaty brows and teary eyes, she shouted, “Sir, Its Dara he’s Severely wounded, sir. Head trauma due to accident.”
Wait, our Dara, Dara Singh? My jolly junior & dear friend, who had just come yesterday evening to give us all Mysuru Pak sweets for cracking the JIPMER Ophthalmology seat?
My mind froze.
There he was, lying on the stretcher, eyes closed, head cracked.
He was drenched in blood. Bruises and lacerations all over his limp body.
A quick assessment revealed: Polytrauma, Head injury, Massive blood loss due to RTA.
We, the critical care team, started the ATLS Trauma protocol ASAP.
Even As I intubated him, I simply couldn’t shake off the eerie feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The eerie feeling that I knew he wouldn’t be able to make it.
We did the required tests and formalities and shifted him to the OT for Haemorrhage and Trauma control.
By 330PM, he was declared brain dead.
23-year-old, young, passionate doctor-to-be, lying motionless, static.
When I first heard it, I was feeling nothing. Nothing at all. I was numb throughout.
My heart was galloping to I don’t know where, my mind was racing hither & thither to I don’t know where.
My mouth felt dry as a parched river bank and my eyes were on fire. I had to sit down and calm myself for around 22 minutes.
Well, to be honest, this wasn’t the hardest part, it was when I faced Dara’s parents, Since I knew them, I was speechless.
Words were simply not pouring out. I stood there looking at them for a long moment then, broke the news, strangely I could hear the pieces of their shattering hearts fall swiftly to the ground.
Exactly 2 hours later came the moment of critical choice for them.
I was assigned the task to talk to them about … err… Organ Donation.
How was I supposed to talk to them? With which mask should I wear to face them? With which soothing tone should I speak to them?
At that moment, I realized :
It was far easy to advise others on organ donation, than to when it comes on to your own dear one.
It was far easier to advocate and scream out the goods and benefits of organ donation than to actually do it.
It was easiest to post online about organ awareness than to confront the sullen souls of the next of kin.
I was feeling terrible even to ask them of this.
How could I ask them to share some part of already broken Dara’s body? Broken and Gone.
Hasn’t he already suffered a lot, why to make him suffer more by removing some aspects of his?
Shouldn’t he be given an honorific, wholesome last respects!?
Do you know what the fun fact is?
All this never occurred to me, when I was convincing relatives of all my previous patients.
It sounds like a tragedy when It happens to others, it feels like a tragedy when it happens to oneself, isn’t it?
Somehow, I decluttered my mind space, emptied the unnecessary emotions and stowed away the weakening feelings.
I came to terms with myself, to Dara and to my task at hand.
I conjured all the remaining vitality of my exhausted body, summoned all my medical wisdom and evoked unexpended strength, and faced his parents.
In the end, Dara’s lungs could breathe to the fullest in the body of a girl with cystic fibrosis and his heart could beat to the rhythm for an arrhythmic teen.
So, that’s all folks.
And of course, wear helmets and donate organs,
both save lives.