This young man’s prolonged surgery required 106 units of blood. He survived the surgery and regained consciousness, but due to the massive tissue damage, prolonged surgery (even with time-saving surgically acceptable shortcuts) and massive transfusion volume, he developed renal, i.e., kidney failure. I accompanied him on a flight to Saigon’s Third Field Hospital for dialysis and was abruptly dismissed by their staff.
“Tree (Dave,) Gus and Roger
I had poured my heart and soul into this boy. I was totally invested in and committed to his survival. I was consumed by him. Then suddenly, I had to turn off the physician and compassion switch and return to the 85th Evac. But that’s medicine. To mentally survive, one has to be efficient in drawing boundaries and move on to the next patient with an unfettered mind. He was my true first patient after residency training. There, one’s actions were monitored, dissected, and altered by a physician more senior in the academic hierarchy. I was now on my own.
A week later, I was notified that he had died.
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