The doctor walked the quiet, remote hallway in the hospital he called home. The antiseptic smell no longer bothered him, most days he longed for that familiar scent to fill his nose. To hear the fries and moans of patients, to look upon their sorrow and know that he the doctor was there to make them better. Today was like any other day, a full ER mostly impoverished people with self inflicted injuries, small children with playground scuffs; and cuts. Alcoholics with bruised faces and smiling. They handled their business. The doctor stood at the door taking in everything about the ER that he loved, it was his court of jesters like in the renaissance festivals. However something caught his attention, in the corner a man sat huddled alone. He didn't look injured, nor scared, he was just sitting their nobody paying him any mind.
"Then I won't pay him any mind at all" he thought.
The sounds of an ambulance broke through the cacophony of people and emts broke through like quarterbacks in a line. On a gurney lay a girl, possibly a teenager. She was mortality wounded in the chest.
"The people here suddenly took a backseat to this one" another thought popped into the doctors head.
The doctor raced to catch up to the EMT's, his duty calling more than his ego.
"Tell me the story on this one" he asked his voice devoid of emotion.
" girl age 14, hit in the chest with a hammer by the father who-"
"I care little for family troubles" the doctor snapped.
" well she is dead without a new heart so you better dig deep for yours, asshole" the EMT carted the girl into an operating room and left face full of emotion.
The doctor got into a full gown and began prepping himself for surgery, his only thoughts in we're his patient if she died on his watch he would lose this game of life and death. A game all to familiar in the world of medicine, the doctor entered the room and began immediately on his patient. The wound was severe, gruesome even, she was literally at deaths door unless a replacement heart could be found within the time frame if just a few hours. An impossible task any doctor would simply give up and make this girls last hours on the mortal plane very pleasing and happy; filled with happy memories and words of joy. He never considered the afterlife never gave the word and meaning or weight in his mind. To him they were words to comfort the sick and dying, he was not comfort doctor he was a tool of medicine given freely were his hours I leisure and chasing after women. His life was medicine, the oath he took bound him by everything.
The girl was closed up by sutures and lay breathing a little easier using machines to keep everything functioning, the protocol would be followed and everything possible would be done to save her. But the odds of finding a heart were next to nothing. The shouts of yet another EMT broke the doctors thoughts.
" I can be another hero" he silently thought to himself
They wheeled the patient into an adjacent OR, the doctor cleaned himself to have a look at the new puzzle before him. The doctor froze on the spot. It was impossible. It wasn't even in the realm of possibility. It was him, the calm man the doctor had seen just moments before. Alive. Breathing. But also here he was, on a gurney.
" what happened to this man? He was just in the ER. Who screwed up?" The doctor asked anger in his voice.
" we came from the other side of town doc, gunshot wound to the head, was breathing when we picked him up. Likely a suicide."
" organ donor?"
"Yes, but he is still alive medically"
"No, he is brain dead. Next of kin? Anyone around?"
"No actually he called us, said it was an emergency, when we got there he took out his gun and shot himself."
The doctor simply stared at the man on the gurney. Lunacy! To give up on ones life was simply cowardice and beyond anything he could grasp. Life was not a gift, it was a duty to be alive.
"Put him in the room with the girl, we need more information" the doctor said his voice more shaky than he liked.
The doctor stood at the edge of the bed, machines could be heard. All the great medical devices of the world worked with efficiency to keep a man alive, who wanted nothing more than to be a ghost. A shadow in the realm of the undead. Through years if practice nd dedication the doctor had no theories on the afterlife. He believed whole heartily that we just stopped existing in this world when death took us. But too take ones loan life? Every religion held suicide as a mortal sun against nature, Catholics, Jews, Christians. Even old pagan religions practiced on the out reaches of humanity believed suicide was a ticket straight to damnation. The man who lay before him was still medically alive. Machines kept everything going, his brain was dead. No signs of life from there. Traditionally he would taken off life support and allowed to die. However that's only if next of kin were notified, none were able to be found. No wallet, no identification was found. The puzzle grew with complexity by the minute. The only thing left was blood work, maybe he had a disease that addled his brain or made him suicidal; a drug can have terrible side effects on people who mix them incorrectly. The doctor glanced at the bed next to him, another patient which he could not save was laying down alive by the hands of man, on the very brink of death. She had a family downstairs waiting for her recovery, maybe even a boyfriend. Someone cares for her, and she allowed herself to care as well, allowed her heart to open up and give freely the love that so many desired.
"Doctor the results are back"
The statement broke him from his reveille, back into reality.
"And? What can you tell me about him?" He asked
"Well he wasn't stoned, drunk, or high on anything. He was in near perfect health."
The doctor figured that, after cleaning the blood and removing his clothing they noticed that the man was in amazing shape. Most likely a marathon runner it avid exerciser.
"Anything helpful?" The doctor asked
"Yes, they match blood types, perfect organ match. Almost too perfect" the nursed said
The doctor took a look at the results himself, it was indeed a near perfect match. Almost like family, this man could give all he has in life to save another. And the doctor was ready to perform what might be a career ending surgery.
" nurse!" He shouted " prepare for another surgery"
The nurse began to protest. But she saw the fire in his eyes. There was no stopping him now. With his team in place he gave them a rundown on everything they were about to do. If anyone had any objections, then they needed to leave.
"A life for a life. Equivalency. Eye for an eye. A simple concept. What we are about to do is against some people's better judgement but a girls life is at stake."
Everyone was ready to give their all for him. They readied all the tools for the procedure. Everyone knew the stakes. Hours later the doctor washed his hands in a sink. The surgery had gone off without a hitch, he had saved a life and ended another. The man was still on bypass which pumped blood into the brain and other organs but eventually he would die. The girl was resting, hopefully she will wake up and live a full life, maybe even think ab the man who saved her life with his own. The doctor stood their in deep thought. He had lived his life according to certain principles none of which included suicide. Doing everything one can in life to help others was a great goal he hoped to achieve but now everything was in question. He was a doctor often he had to make calls that did not suit him at all. This one left a bitter taste in his mouth. Why give everything? It truly was madness on every level? Why was he questioning his very logic over one man? Maybe because the man had done the one act he could never do. Made the call that everyone refused to. He looked logic in the face and spat in it. Then out a gun to his head and made sure his last act would save someone. There was one last thing he wanted to do.
He roamed down the hall to the security office and played the tape of him in the ER and there in the seat where he saw the calm one. Was No one. The seat was empty. Occupied by just the spirit of what was to come. The doctor looked up at the ceiling and for the first time in his life hoped there was happiness at the end of life for the man who saved a life.
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