They stick together

When I arrived in the emergency room, there was blood everywhere. His father was cradling him in his arms, he was crying and blood was pouring from his mouth. The bleeding started without warning and everyone was frightened.

My new pre-school patient, Joe, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer just months before. He traveled to the continental United States for treatment but was told nothing could be done. Recently, he returned to Saipan for palliative care.

The father told me “I know he is going to die soon. I just want him to be peaceful and not suffer. Can you please stop the bleeding?”

I said, “We have no platelets on Saipan and it will take 2-3 days to get them from Hawaii. He may bleed too much before we can get them here.”

After a few moments of silence, the mother began sobbing and cried out, “I killed him. I killed him. If I did not brush his teeth, he would be fine. I caused him to die.”

As the dad held his dying child, he reached over and softly caressed his wife. They all held each other tightly and cried. Despite the circumstances, it was a heartwarming moment. The family bond seemed unbreakable.

After leaving the room, I walked back to the nurses’ station and thought about the case. There had to be an alternative solution.

Then the light bulb came on. I had used a medicine on a hemophiliac one night during my second year in residency. The medicine is not approved for what my cancer patient had, but it was worth a try.

I called the pharmacy and they quickly prepared the solution. Four hours after giving the medicine, Joe’s bleeding miraculously stopped. We had forced all of his blood to stick together.

When I entered the room this morning, there was a jovial atmosphere. An observer would have thought that Joe was cured of his cancer. He was not and will soon die, but there were a few more moments for them to be a happy, cohesive family again.

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2 Responses to “They stick together”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Do they have other fractionated blood components in Saipan? No platelets, but they have factors to treat hemophilia? Hmmm…

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