When you think of Heart transplant, what pop-up on your mind? Does a donor have to die for the recipient to live? Or a dead donor’s heart has to be plugged in to the recipient’s thoracic cavity for him to survive an heart disease? And the big question, What makes a heart donor? And why should a person need a new heart?
On a night out with friends heading to a nearby grocery store, Adriel was an innocent victim caught in a crossfire of gang violence. He was hit by a stray bullet along with his friends, two of his friends died instantly while he was mortally wounded. An emergency force arrived at the scene few minutes after the gun battle and the victims were wheeled to the hospital.
Weeks and days of intensive care on life support, and artificial nutrition with unbearable increase in health bill, no sign of improvement nor recovery. “With life support technology, we have the ability to keep him alive as much longer as you can pay the daily bill ” said Doctor Wu. Adriel mother almost broke down in tears but was consoled by an attending ICU Nurse. Keeping a patient on life support in an intensive care unit bed costs a minimum $2,000-$4,000 per day and can run much higher depending on the patient’s condition, Adriel’s parents couldn’t afford the daily bill any longer and couldn’t afford to lose the fiction of hope that their child could be brought back to life, however, the story was caught short when Adriel was declared brain dead. Series of test were conducted and no brain activity was detected meaning that there’s an absolute zero chance of recovery.
In the midst of unspeakable grief, Adriel’s parents faced a gut-wrenching decision. A doctor proposed to them a slightly rare consideration. “Unfortunately,we couldn’t save your son, however your son is a very good candidate for organ donation…..” Doctor Wu said and paused due to sudden interruption. “Organ what!?” Adriel father’s exclaimed. “….we rarely give out this option to our patients, however whenever we identify a suitable candidate, we don’t want to loose it especially when some other patients are dearly in need” the doctor continued.
Adriel was that popular, gregarious and generous kid that everyone loved. After high school, he wanted to become a Paediatrics surgeons and philanthropist even though his father wants him to run his company when he finally retires. His father remembers him with honesty; he had a heart of gold, but he could be testy, too. With this his father couldn’t reject the doctor’s proposal. “I’m sure he wouldn’t reject your offer if he was to be alive” Adriel’s father said while his mother nodded in agreement.
With organ donation, the death of a single person can lead to the survival of many others, however the donor is only kept alive by a ventilator till its time to extract his valuable organs even though he’s dead Someone like Adriel, can donate up to eight lifesaving organs including the heart, two lungs, two eyes, two kidneys, the liver, pancreas, and intestines.
Organ donation was something Adriel’s parent had never really considered. After all, who thinks of such a tragedy will involve their child. But they both took some comfort in knowing that they could turn their loss into life for someone else; in knowing that in some way, Adriel could live on through others.
Adriel’s mother remembers walking alongside her son’s hospital bed lined with doctors, nurses and specialists as it was rapidly wheeled to the operating room with tears rolling down her cheeks. “It felt like it was a mile long — the longest mile of her life, but also somehow also the shortest.” she said “Then, it was time to say our ‘see you soon ‘” she concluded
12 months later after the donation, the two parents had ridden ups and downs of griefs, with an aching and gaping hole in their hearts. Howbeit, letters from strangers have brought them some peace and mysteries.
“We got a mail from a 20-year-old young lady telling us she can now see for the first time since she was born and sincerely thanking us for Adriel’s corneas. We also received a letter from a farmer thanking us for our Son’s pancreas and kidney,” Adriel’s father said.
Adriel parents received series of letters from their sons organs recipients, But the most poignant moment since Adriel’s death occurred just recently which came in form of a package, sent from Chicago. Adriel’s mother broke down in tears as she opened the “special gift” she just received at her door step–a white teddy bear that played her late son’s heartbeat with a tag ” love you mom, love you dad”. “Who sent this?” Adriel mother quickly open the whole box and found the out the name of her son written on it.
To be continued. …..
Writer: Ahmad Abdullah
University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria