The Heart, by Nancy Patterson

The doors to the emergency room burst open as a stretcher rolled in pushed by one technician while another straddled the young girl, working furiously to stem her bleeding.  Blood stained the sheet under the girl and dripped from the fingers on her left arm leaving a trail on the hospital floor. Liz ran alongside the stretcher trying to keep up and praying as hard as she can.

“Please God, don’t take my baby. Sarah deserves to have a chance at life. She’s only 16. I’ll do anything if you’ll just give her a chance.”

Doctors and nurses came running to meet the stretcher and immediately pulled it into another room. Liz stopped outside the door and looked through the window at the flurry of activity surrounding her daughter. Bloody bandages and gauze were being tossed on the floor as they scrambled to slow the blood flow. Liz could see the doctors barking orders at the nurses, a technician rolling a table full of blood bags, and another tray was brought in loaded with the most wicked looking surgical tools Liz had ever seen.

Closing her eyes, she whispered every prayer she ever knew in her lifetime.

“Mr. Kane?”

Mike! LIz whirled around to see her husband running down the hall. Oh my God, Mike! Liz ran to meet him. “I’m so glad to see you. Sarah is in the room and it looks really bad.” Liz grabbed his arm. “I’m so scared.”

Mike’s looked like he’d aged 10 years since Liz last saw him earlier that morning before he left for work. His face was ashen and haggard. She could have sworn half of his hair had just turned gray since then.

“I’m Mr Kane.” Mike replied to the administrator who was speaking to him.

“Please sit down, Mr. Kane. I’m going to get some paperwork that we will need you to sign then I’ll explain everything to you.”

Mike caught sight of Sarah laying in the other room and walked over to the window. Placing his hand on the window he appeared to sag visibly upon seeing his daughter.

“Honey,” Liz said, “I’m so sorry I took that route. I know you didn’t want me to use the expressway during rush hour but I was rushing and was trying to get home before you did. That car just swerved in front of that truck and next thing I knew there were pipes falling off of the back of it.” LIz couldn’t seem to stop talking. All she wanted was for Mike to hug her and tell her that everything would be okay with their daughter, but he didn’t even acknowledge her presence. He just stood there looking like a broken man.

“Mr. Kane.” The administrator was back holding a sheaf of papers. “We don’t have much time. So I’ll try to go over this2.”

Mike nodded.

“A rod flew off the truck that was involved in the accident, into your wife’s car and into your daughter’s heart. We’re keeping her alive right now, but we cannot remove the rod. As soon as that rod is removed she will die. As we explained to you earlier on the phone we have a heart available that’s a perfect match and if you’ll sign the consent forms, we can begin the transplant immediately.”

Mike bowed his head and cried.

“MIke.” Liz rubbed his shoulder, “We need to sign those papers now, honey. We need to get that transplant started. You and I can talk later about everything.”

Mike continued to cry quietly.

Liz looked through the window at the activity surrounding their daughter. “Mike, please. There’s no time to waste, let’s just sign those papers now.”

“Mr.Kane?” The administrator looked at him with the saddest eyes Liz had ever seen. She touched him on the other shoulder. “She’s brain dead. Nothing is going to bring her back, but your daughter can still be saved.”

Okay, there’s nothing that says the father alone has to be the one to sign. Liz began to reach out for the papers that would give permission for them to put another heart into her daughter’s body. “Just give them to me. I’ll sign them…” Liz’s voice trailed off when she saw a flurry of activity on the other side of the same room her daughter was in. Another gurney was being brought in. This one had a body that was completely covered from head to toe. Everything slowed down as Liz watched the stretcher rolling over next to her daughter. Getting up, Liz cocked her head to the side as she saw the extra gurney. Walking over to the window, Liz saw an arm fall out from under the sheet. It hung there, lifeless. Shining in the harsh florescent lights of the room, was an antique, diamond wedding ring. The same filigreed pattern that she had on her own finger…

Everything fell into place. How no one acknowledged her presence, Mike’s grief and the administrator’s sympathy.

In a panic, Liz looked around the hospital. “No, wait. I can’t die. I want to see Sarah grow up, her graduation, her babies…I want to grow old with Mike. God, no. Please don’t do this to me. Find another heart. Please!”

Looking back over at her daughter’s face, Liz saw how pale and lifeless it looked. The years flashed back, of when she met Mike, falling in love, her wedding and the birth of Sarah. She remembered their joy over seeing Sarah reach all the different milestones in her life. The tears and joy that she and Mike experienced as Sarah grew up. Liz looked back over toward Mike and saw him reaching out for the papers that the administrator had. She realized that she’d been blessed with a wonderful husband and daughter and that she would be giving them a gift by allowing Sarah to live on with her heart. The years flashed into the future….she saw Sarah graduating college, Mike standing beside her as he gave her away in marriage, her first baby, Mike playing with grandchildren…

LIz bowed her head. “I love you both more than life itself.”

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