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July 24, 2010

“How did it go?” I asked the resident, “she died”…

It was my second day in that particular department in public hospital X in Amman. She was the last patient we saw, an Asian housemaid in her twenties, and she was put in isolation because she had tuberculosis and suspected HIV. She was identified as  ‘J, maid of Dr. X,’ we didn’t know her full name.

We went to the room, I was a little bit afraid because the doctors didn’t seem to care to do any precautions, but I went in.

The room had two beds, she was lying in one, the other was empty. She was frail, unconscious, and visibly gasping, despite the mask attached to her nose.

The consultant took a look at her, he checked the Oxygen saturation: very low. The senior resident wanted to make sure the device is working, so he tried it on his own finger. It worked. The pulse was 126, “too much” I mumbled…

“Where is the new X-ray?”

He took out the X-ray from beneath the other bed’s mattress, he looked at it, th lungs had white patches all over them. “This is ARDS, obviously…” He went on with the explanation…

“We should consult Anesthesia to admit her to the ICU”

“But with her TB status, I doubt they will agree”

“We could try intubating ourselves”

We went out. I left with the consultant, the residents stayed to intubate the patient. Ten minutes later, the patient was dead.

She went away alone, away from her homeland, from her folks. I wonder what her people knew. Do they know what happens to their daughters, wives, sisters, in these far away lands?

May she rest in peace.


From → Life in Medicine

  1. Douja permalink

    This gave me chills… Death is something I do not fear but embrace, but fear settles in on the death of others, the idea of this sudden loss. Death is ‘the road to awe’ yet as we settle on this path we can’t help but have a sense of remorse, how can some people have no regard for a life? I will hopefully enter the medical field and relish the idea of changing someones life especially their last. You are such a strong and kind man to be their for people in this manner, its a rarity now and days

  2. Douja,

    Well, I guess I’m still a lot fresher than my seniors regarding these issues. So maybe life in the medical field hasn’t dampened my spirits yet. I hope it doesn’t.

  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing so we could remember her life. That poor woman. I can only imagine what she has experienced in her life. No one deserves to die alone, apart from their families. I will be praying for her loved ones tonight.
    Thanks for writing this. Powerfully done.

  4. Thanks Julia. Unfortunately, I do not believe such stories are unique. There are many other similar stories…

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