(by his brother Richard)
Let me explain what happened
to my brother, Bobby. He died 11:35pm Sunday, April 18th, 1999, a victim of Hepatitis C. He lived
in upstate NY (Herkimer County) not too far from Utica. He had served at
Griffiss Air Force base, Rome, NY from 1976-84 (last year served in South Korea) and after
discharge, lived in the area. He had fallen into a coma the Wednesday before and was due
at Mt. Sinai here in NY for a liver transplant operation. An operation which was to be
expected but would hopefully extend his life at least 10 -15 years, at which time, with
advances in medicine, he could have lasted even much longer.
Mt. Sinai had a bed for him on
Thursday and then later didn't have one available for him. They did say
though that he would have the next bed available. Friday and Saturday still produced no bed for him. Finally, after
many of us calling on his behalf, on Sat. night (4/17), he was scheduled to be at Mt.
Sinai at 7am Sunday. A chopper would pick him up, fly him down, and hopefully get his new
liver. According to two specialists, two transplants were performed on Saturday, so he was
next in line.
When a person gets a liver, they are usually near death. Vital organs crash,
kidneys fail, but the new liver fixes everything. With the transplant, he would come out
of the coma, his kidneys would restart and vitals would come back to normal. By Saturday
evening, my brother had total kidney and liver failure as well as pneumonia in his lungs. They
would only take him based on the condition of his heart. His BP was 132/83, clearly very
strong and able to make the trip. A bed had finally been made available. So, Saturday night
11pm, plans were made. I would meet the chopper at 7am, his wife would drive down and meet
us later. But, through the night, his BP went down to 60. I was awakened at 5am Sunday and
told they would hold the bed until 3:00pm and if his heart bp went up, they would still
take him. So, I still had hope.
As the day progressed, it was clear things had not
changed. My wife, my mom and I took the 3 hr. drive upstate to his hospital bed and met
his wife. We stayed with him for hours and I inquired about disconnecting his respirator.
We discussed this with his doctors and at about 11:30 pm all life supports and meds were
discontinued. I held his hand until the end. We said prayers around him and, at 11:35pm,
he took his last breath. Must be a bad dream, I thought. The shock and sorrow is
the fact that he only
missed it by a few hours. The hospital didn't have a bed for him for 3 days. We arranged a
chopper for him, through my job and finally Mt. Sinai agreed to send their own helicopter
for him. In our minds, he was getting a new liver and we would help him recoup. (For years,
he was part of clinical trials and every new FDA drug available.) The transplant program
works by waiting until the patient is almost near death but, as conditions change in
minutes, if he's too sick, they won't waste the liver. This is what happened.
The next day, after funeral
arrangements, my mom had a heart attack. She'll be alright. But, she lost her son and
recently her husband (bone cancer). Many people have children so I know many can imagine that
pain. She's home now. But we are numb and saddened. I'm glad I was there for my brother.
He was 42 years old.
The opinions expressed on
this page are solely those of the author and none of the information included is to be
misconstrued as medical advise.
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March 20, 2012