"Doctor, please save my child!!"
We knew the urgency of the situation as soon as we saw the woman carrying the limp form of a child and heard her desperate cries. The sight of the woman and her little boy caused my heart to drop to my toes.
The child, a little boy, couldn't have been any older than two at the most. He was tiny. He looked more dead than alive: he was unconscious.
The woman poured out her story as she was directed into the emergency room (treatment room #3) and placed the child on the table. Apparently, he had gotten into the cabinet in the kitchen of her house and drank some bleach.
How much, that part was uncertain; whatever the amount, the child was still in trouble.
I and other members of the emergency department descended on the child like a pack of wolves. Immediately, lines and tubes were attached, and we did all we could to save the child. It was to no avail: it had already been too late. As we were treating the child (his name was LaBron*), it was soon discovered that he wasn't breathing. Apparently he'd drank way too much, and it caused his organs to shut down, one by one: his vital signs were crappy at best.
Suddenly the situation took on a new sense of urgency.
Monitors screamed their warningsong, and we worked hard to try to revive LaBron. No success. We worked on him for a good half hour. If we did even attempt to revive him, it would have been futile: the child would probably be left severely brain damaged.
Maybe it was a good thing he did end up dying, I remember thinking, as I wiped tears of anger and frustration from my eyes.
The mother was now in the hallway, waiting for news on her child. I remember hearing her wails of anguish as Dr. Potter told her about Lebron. It caused new tears to fall. I really felt horrible, not only for LeBron, but for his mother. Lebron would never get any older, and the mother would be without her little boy.
I suddenly started thinking about my own boy back home. What would happen if this happened to him? Would I react with the same fervor in trying to save him, or would he end up dying like this little boy?
In any event, it was the perfect way to ruin an already bad day in the emergency department. It was one of those days that made me validate my credentials as a doctor. It made me want to hang up my stethescope and just walk the hell out of there.
*not child's real name.