PATIENT #13.

Tick,Tock. I listen to the slow ticking of the round clock on the wall. For every Tick, I held my breath, and every Tock, I feel a deep stab in my heart as I watch the body lying prone on the narrow bed. His chest in cadence with the ticking of the clock too.

Patient #13 is young man. Usually, we have much older kidney-transplant clients. 36 is such a young age to be living in wheelchairs and dialysis machines. The hospital aides lifted him to the firm mattress.

As the interpreter/caregiver, I stepped forward to welcome him in his mother tongue. He looked straight in my eyes and smiled. A taboo in his country, but, I felt pleased that he is all for building a connection at an early stage.

The staff left us alone to talk and make the necessary bonding.
I learned that his is a genetic kind of kidney failure. His father, his grandfather and other relatives died of the inherited gene malfunction. Age mortality of 40 at most.

Ken lived a healthy normal childhood. He and his siblings, nevertheless, has accepted that they are on limited time. Each one has decided not to marry and end the curse. For generations their family has saved enough for a medical procedure that may help keep one alive. They became rich in their chosen field and dreamed of this day for one of them. Ken is the last one of the family line and we are their last hope.

The door opened and one of the doctors in our team came in to check. Dr. Ang avoided looking at the bed and went straight to Ken's mother. Sighing, I moved away from the bedside to interpret. Not taking my eyes off Ken,I translated their grieving conversation. Making sure I put the right tone in my voice.

Ken is a happy playful guy. He easily gets along with the staff and tease the young nurses and pretty interns. Even as I translate, he makes funny gestures that kept the room noisy with laughter earning us frowns and scoldings from the head nurse. He never complained of waking up for the routinary blood letting
for creatinine exams and painful dialysis procedure.

Like the other clients, I am the only one he allows to touch him physically. So, I was the one giving him showers, shavings, massages, and cleaning ups every time nature calls.

Our nightly conversations are so open, I ended up knowing all his secrets, both physically and mentally.

For 6 months, we built up such a relationship that with just one look from him, and I can already give a 5mins translation.

The head doctor was against this connection, and I had a daily dose of lectures, but he could not replace me with someone else. There is no one else! We had become the only unique team in the country.

Rudely, I was distracted from my musings when Dr. Ang asked how they wished to bring Ken home. He suggested cremation, so as not to incur government inquiries and it would be easier to make up a death certificate and medical records, without mentioning live kidney donation.

Live kidney donation! Ken explained to me that his government has a law against having a living kidney donor. The law has been a great agonizing ordeal for thousands who are in the same plight as him. They have to wait in a long line for someone healthy to die, so they can live. Imagine having to pray for that!
"Politics!" He said with bitterness.

Now, Ken has to be cremated without their traditional rituals.

Dr. Ang said the kidney was doing well, but the unidentified bacteria has destroyed other internal organs. Having to take the immunity repressant drugs so the body will accept the new kidney, has made the case worse.

Ken's mother asked if it is possible to redonate the new kidney. I was too shocked to translate it to the doctor, that he has to ask me twice what was said. I saw my face reflected on his as I was talking and tears crept down his eyes.

Dr. Ang dropped to his knees in front of the weeping mother, kissing her hands.

"Your family do not deserve this curse!", he cried.

One hand reached to stroke his head. The comforter being comforted.

Your family do not deserve this curse!
Everyone in the Team and hospital wing has repeatedly said same thing.

First time I saw the head and all the staff so meticulous going out of their way not only to make the transplant successful but also the patient comfortable and happy.

Ken was so grateful about this. When he woke up after the surgery he told me how kind everyone in the surgery room was.

There was a celebration party in the visiting room when Ken first filled up two urine bags. Even the mother had her first two glass of wine and everyone was celebrating!

After two weeks, everyone was saying goodbye to Ken as they filled up his release papers.

Then Ken developed a high fever. A new doctor came into the team. He was a well known bacteriologist but even he can not find what exactly is causing the fever.

Ken rapidly deteriorated and a new tube introduced daily to support his breathing, feeding and lastly one on his head.

"Keep fighting, Ken. Do not ever give up! You're from the line of warriors. Do not shame your family crest!", I whispered in his ear.

I felt his hand squeezed mine and winked at me. He wiped a tear on my cheek that I did not notice falling.

The door opened again and the head strolled in.

He looked at Ken and groaned.
"It has been hours since we removed all the life support. I am sorry, but if Ken keeps fighting on we have to put back all the tubes and treat him as a comatose patient. You have to talk to him and ask him to let go. I believe he will hear you, wherever he is now. I know this is painful, but all of us who had been with him this past months has to say goodbye, too. I apologize for having to ask this much from you, Mrs Oda".

The head approached Ken's bed. Holding Ken's thin hand he leaned and whispered softly. He straightened up and walked out of the door without his usual by leave.


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