After we stablized him, three sets of parents arrived and were put into the family waiting room. I called the chaplain because none of the parents knew about the fatalities. We had no way to identify our patient besides his personal belongings. Our patient, the last alive and barely holding on, had a unique belt on.
I went into the family room to talk to the parents. I said "I am sorry to break the bad news but we had two deaths at the scene. The one survivor is here and is in very critical condition."
All I could hear was screaming and sadness. One family member asked, "Who is the young man alive?" I said, "Sir, we have no way to identify him except that he has a unique belt on." Then one hopeful set of parents started crying and said "Does it have a nickname and silver trim?" I said, "Yes." The parents then shouted "That's out son!"
The other parents were crying in agony. It was probably the worst night of my medical career. Trying to maintain composureI said, "You can come back to see him in 5 minutes, but he is in critical conditon with a serious brain injury."
The parents soon came back and identified him. Unfortunately the CT Scan illustrated irreversible brain injury with a cervical spine fracture. Again, I had to break the sad news to the family.
With more strength and courage than I could ever imagine, the mother said "I want to donate his organs so someone else can live. He wouldn't want to live like this." I was shocked b/c so far in my career, I've seen most make end of life decisions that maintain someone on a ventilator, prolonging the inevitable. I made the call to the transplant center and he became an organ donor. I left the hospital that day with a wall around my heart to seperate my emotions from reality.
I eventually forgot about Alpha until I received a letter in the mail one day from the transplant center. It said the following: "Dear Dr. Sensitive, Although Alpha died on June 1, 2008, we were able to harvest his liver, eyes, kidneys, & tendons. Because of your referral, 12 people were either saved or helped by Alpha's tissues. We are extremely grateful, and on behalf of our patients we thank you."
My wall came down and my emotions came back. Thus far I dealt with that night by building a wall, but now Alpha was a real person to me. I went home that night and googled his name. I found out that he was 2 minutes from his house, his girlfriend was following behind him, and she saw the entire accident. I discovered that he had a My Space Page and looked through it. It was strange to see him as a person, and I was saddened that his life was cut so short. However, through his death and his courageous mother, he saved the lives of 12 others.