by Sandy A
Sometimes fear of immigration interferes with family grief.
|He was a young male of indeterminate race. His face was so swollen that his facial features were distorted. A tracheostomy protruded from his neck attached to the ventilator. There was no neurological response and the CT of his head was flooded with blood, the ventricles squashed flat due to swelling.
He had been found in the street on the edge of the Latino/Asian community. There were witnesses to the incident. They said he had been beaten and then his head had been run over by a man in a small truck. No one admitted to knowing him. And when the detectives had returned to follow up on the patrolman's report, all of the witnesses were gone, vanished like smoke. No one in the vicinity recalled seeing anything.
He was presumed to be illegal. Attempts had been made to find family, but no one in the neighborhood seemed to be looking for him. No one knew him or knew what had happened to him. He was a ghost.
There were no tattoos. He had broken left ribs and a chest tube. His liver had been damaged and he was going into respiratory failure. On the third day of his hospitalization, he was put through the brain death protocol and was determined to be irreversibly damaged with no hope of survival.
The state organ donor team arrived and took over his care. They did blood and tissue typing to recover his organs if a family member came forth to give permission.They maintained his blood pressure, kept his fever in check and cultured him to rule out infections. They tested for hepatitis A,B and HIV. He was referred to as a "stellar donor."
The team supported him for 3 days as the detectives tried to find family or friends. Finally, life support was withdrawn and he died alone and unknown within twenty minutes. he had a strong heart but it finally stuttered and stopped.
I left the room to get a morgue pack to wrap his poor broken body. ten minutes later I returned to the darkened room. As I put on the light, I saw it: Pinned to his gown was a St. Christopher's medal and a single red rose.