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Donor Call

Maryanne Chrisant, MD
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital
Hollywood, FL, USA

On the corner of 84th and Park I press the pay-phone
to my head until my ear hurts to better hear the story.
A donor call: a bad end for some adolescent
whose size and blood are a good match for my patient
dying in the ICU way up-town
waiting for a heart.

The donor is fifteen years old. He fell off a roof
or was pushed or jumped never suspecting
that his heart and whatever else could be pulled
piecemeal from the wreckage would have a second chance.
He's comatose closed to the world now all gone brain-dead.
His brain is dead his brain: if there were a way to transplant that
we'd give that away too or just a part of it
a necessary part no longer needed by
a fifteen year old Hispanic male dark eyes dark hair
size nine shoes and a girlfriend named Cleo.
We will take his heart, stuff it into my patient
a dying twelve-year-old his own heart patulous
pumping his blood in thin rapid beats
like an old man rapping his cane
upon the floor.

After the first week of waiting his mother told me
"I know what I'm praying for." She looked at me as if
Suddenly understanding some card trick. "I'm praying for a heart.
I'm praying some other kid will die
so my kid will live. You don't know how it hurts all the more,
knowin' it's gonna be some other mother's child
that's gonna die. That mother'll cry too
She'll cry herself out an'then she'll say,
'Go ahead. Take his heart.'"

I am cold standing in the rain.
I watch umbrellas pass with people
wrapped warm for the night, hurried along
by the hour the weather to home to supper
while I stand at the pay-phone
hands bare, cold face wet from the rain
listening to the donor story
knowing the end
before the middle was ever written. ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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