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Update on Dawson - June 2015
I had a head on collision on Jan 2, 1983. I was a junior attending USC and had to have reconstructive surgery on my face and wore a neck brace for a few months. I had a non-displaced fracture in my neck that over time became calcified, and eventually led to the need for corrective spine surgery using donor bone. Just prior to my surgery, I had severe pain in my feet that doctors thought was attributed to my diabetes. I also had decreased range of motion in my arms and legs. Much of this was thought to be from my long stay at the Med Center while I recovered from kidney and liver failure.
When our 22-year-old son Tim learned that he had a brain aneurysm, he had no choice but to have an operation to repair the weakened wall of the artery. Without surgery, his excruciating headaches would continue and a rupture of the artery would bring instant death. The operation corrected that problem, but hours later Tim had an adverse reaction to the trauma of surgery. His brain tissue swelled severely and the doctors could not control this.
We had no choice when we were told that Tim would not survive. We kept vigil through the night and hoped and prayed, but we were powerless to do anything to change the situation. Tim was dying and we could not prevent this. By morning Tim was brain dead.
I first came to know Carmelita and Jesse on the telephone. Their son, Zach, had been referred to us by his neonatologist for liver and small bowel transplant evaluation. From the moment I spoke to them on the phone, I could hear the love they had for their child, and the faith they held in their hearts. Twenty-four hours later, I met them in person, and I witnessed that same love and faith in their eyes, and saw it in the way they held their son. Three days later, Zach was listed for liver and small bowel transplant, and the race for his life began. Would he get organs before he succumbed to the complications of his liver disease?
Daily, our team supported him medically, and supported his parents emotionally. The waiting was agonizing, and Zach’s deterioration became more and more pronounced each day. Zach’s kidneys were failing, his blood pressure was dropping, and his lungs were retaining fluid. The incredible fluid build-up in his belly further made his breathing difficult. He became increasingly disoriented, first evidenced by his fussiness, then progressing to an altered mental status. Eventually, he rarely woke, and when he did, his eyes that had once been delightful, were dull and unfocused.