To Save Two Lives
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the family arrived at the hospital for the second time, they learned
the donor organ would be split. Hernandez would receive the right
lobe, the larger part, while a child would get the right lobe (CK
right lobe above), the smaller portion. “I thought it was good,”
says Angel, “that my father was going to share the liver with a
little kid. It was like a blessing.”
little kid was Andrew Gyswyt.
5:15 p.m., Angel, his 16-year-old brother, Daniel, and their mother
said good-bye to Hernandez as he lay on a gurney in the operating
wing, ready to be wheeled into the O.R. He probably did not hear
them. He was in a coma.
Gyswyts are saying good-bye to Andrew. He is wearing a child-sized
hospital gown, and is leaning against his mother’s chest, his legs
limp as a rag doll’s. Jadonne, dressed in dark sweat clothes and
looking worn, confers with one of the doctors. “It could be midnight,
it could be 11, it could be 1,” he says, predicting the time the
operation may end.
darlin’,” says a nurse in blue scrubs. She gently pries Andrew from
the arms of his mother. Andrew cries feebly, like a frightened kitten,
his tiny hands grabbing the air before he disappears through a door
down the hall. His parents are left alone, their baby’s stroller
of toys and diapers and medicines beside them, a mylar balloon with
the words “Get Well!” floating idly above the handle. They push
the stroller down the hall, through double doors into the elevator
and up to the waiting room.
races down the hallway, his surgical garb on. He’s about to begin
Andrew’s surgery. This will be his 34th split-liver operation since
1996, but he is not complacent. “If everything doesn’t go perfectly,”
he says, “the chances of the procedure failing are significant.
That’s the crucial thing about these operations -- there’s zero
tolerance for error.”
members of the transplant team wheel Angel Hernandez into Operating
Room 2. He lies on a gurney, oblivious to his surroundings, tubes
springing from his body everywhere. Three surgeons inspect his IVs.