The following morning Will and James were driving the car in silence, not mentioning last night’s events. As Will pulled over to drop his mate off at the hospital, he whispered “Do you think he’s alright that guy? We kind of left him out there in the dark injured, you know”. He looked away as James leaned back against the window. “Are you kidding me? He got what he deserved. Toughen up dude, what’s wrong with you?”. He bumped on the car’s roof twice and said “Thanks for the ride mate, appreciate it”.
“Yeah, no worries. Let me know how it goes, mate. I’ll pick you up later”.
James walked down the hospital hall. He put his face mask on but was disappointed to find out it doesn’t really filter out those hospital smells he couldn’t stand anymore. “I spent too much time in these halls the last few years”, he mumbled to himself. A message on the speakers kept repeating “Dr Heath, please report to ICU as soon as possible”. A few staff members went rushing down the hall with a patient bed. James looked away. He stopped at reception and cleared his throat.
“Hi there, can I please see Dr Fletcher?”, he didn’t pay attention that the receptionist was busy on the phone. A moment later she was ready to serve. “Dr Fletcher is not in today. How can I help you?”.
“My mum is here for a surgery, Margaret O’Connor. It’s scheduled for 2pm today”, he pointed a thick finger towards the screen.
“Right, let me check”, she said and punched the keyboard a few times while staring at the computer’s screen. She seem to have noticed something odd by the way she tweaked her thin eyebrows. “Umm, let me get Dr Chu to come and have a word with you”.
“Dr. Who?” he was rather surprised.
The receptionist ignored his comment and gave someone a ring over the phone.
“The doctor will be here in a moment. Please have a seat”, she pointed him towards the waiting area and away from her desk.
“Thanks lovely”, he tried to impress with much more gratitude than he would normally give away.
A moment later the doctor walked in. “Hi, I’m Dr Chu, the deputy manager here today”. James got up slowly and looked at him in disgust, holding back from saying anything.
“Are you a family member of Mrs O’Connor?”. He had a kind voice.
“Yes, I’m her son, James”, he looked away.
“I understand she’s scheduled for a transplant surgery this arvo”, his body language indicated there were some bad news to follow. James could read body language very well, it always helped him bullying other people.
“That’s right genius, did you figure this out yourself?”.
“No, that is what today’s schedule is telling me”, his smile was polite. It’s not the first time he had to deliver bad news to family members.
James looked around. “Where is Dr Fletcher? He’s my mum’s doctor for many years now, he knows all the history and everything, so I really want to talk to him”.
“I’m sorry, Dr Fletcher is not available today”.
“What do you mean not available? He should always be available to take care of my mum”. The receptionist raised her head over the counter, a few other staff members were now staring at them as well.
The doctor took a deep breath. “I’m sorry James, I’m afraid I got some bad news”.
“Bad news?” James choked for a moment. “What is it? Is my mum alright?”
“Yes, she is stable James. There hasn’t been any change in her condition. It’s about the operation…”
“What about the operation?”
“Unfortunately it seems like we would have to postpone it”, he released a big sigh of disappointment.
“What the heck? What do you mean ‘postpone it’? We can’t postpone it again, it’s already been pushed back twice”. James was loud and clear.
“Dr Chu, is everything OK?” asked the receptionist, signaling to the doctor that security is just a phone call away. The doctor waved back that everything is under control.
“I know it was. Many operations were pushed back due to the pandemic”.
“I don’t care about all the other operations, man”, he shook his head in disbelief, then took a deep breath. “Did you cancel it? Are YOU responsible for this?”
“No James, not at all. This is completely out of our hands”.
“What do you mean ‘out of your hands’? I thought it was all booked and ready to go”.
“Yes, it was. The kidney transplant procedure is ready to go, but we have an unexpected last-minute problem I’m afraid”.
James’ face now turned red. “Look dude, I don’t care who you are, I wanna talk to Dr Fletcher. He knows our situation for a long time. Someone like you cannot just jump in and change the schedule, this is not China here, you hear me?”
“Mr O’Connor, please calm down. I didn’t change anything. We actually have a problem with the donor”.
“Oh, the donor? What happened? Did he or she change their mind or something?”
“No, no, it’s not like that. The donor is very keen, they always were. But unfortunately they’re not in good health at the moment”, the doctor shook his head.
“Oh, I see. I hope she doesn’t have the virus, you know, Corona… does she?”
“No, this is nothing to do with COVID-19, James. It’s entirely a different matter”.
“So what happened?” James kept pushing.
“Well, I can’t actually give away any medical details due to patient confidentiality reasons, surely you understand that”.
“Well, I’m not going anywhere until you’ll explain what’s going on”.
Dr Chu sighed. “All I can tell you is that the donor was reported to hospital and need to go through an emergency procedure. We’re hoping for a quick recovery, but it might take some time. I’m afraid, though, that due to their medical condition we can’t proceed at this stage, I’m sorry”.
James put his hands on his face in disbelief. “So she’s like an old lady or something, and now she has a medical condition?”, James murmured in disappointment.
“Not at all, but as I said James, this is a really unfortunate and unlucky timing”.
“So… we’ll have to wait until we find another donor?”
“Well, your mother has a very rare blood type, you know it took a while to find this donor…”
“Yes I know that. Otherwise I would have given her my kidney. What do you think, I’m stupid?”
“I can’t promise you anything, James. I’m afraid your mum is in a critical condition. We don’t have much time”. He hesitated for a moment whether to put his hand on James’ shoulder to comfort him, but retreated back rather quickly.
“OMG, are you telling me that I’m going to lose my mum?” he raised his voice again.
“It’s important to be realistic. All I’m saying is we got a better chance waiting for the donor we already have until they recover, rather than going through the whole donor matching process from the beginning”. He sighed. “Let’s hope she can make it”.
“Is the donor here in this hospital? Any chance we can talk?”
The doctor nearly chuckled in surprise. “Well, our donors ask to stay anonymous, so I’m unable to get you in touch with them at all. You see, these donors are the type of people who really want to do the right thing for the community, without getting any public recognition. They do it from here”, the doctor put his hand on his own chest.
Suddenly, one of the doors down the hall opened as a couple of nurses pushed up a bed with a patient, rushing through the hall past James and Dr Chu. James turned around and stared at the poor patient’s face. It was a young man with dark hair and even though he was lying in bed with his eyes shut, James immediately recognised his face. ‘OMG, that’s the Asian guy from last night’, his whole body was covered in goosebumps as he kept gazing at Jason who disappeared into the lift at the end of the hall.
“Is this the donor?”, James said hesitantly.
Dr. Chu nodded. “He’s going into surgery now. Let’s hope he can make it”.