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On My Mind
November 2013

Still

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(11):993. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2267

Alisha died quickly. Her skin color rapidly changed to gray once the ventilator was removed. Her eyes remained open, staring at nothing. I said goodbye to her and then talked with her parents outside her room. We spoke of Alisha, how they would face this new life without her. When they were ready to go in and see her, we hugged. I remember feeling the weight of her stepmother as she sobbed, her knees buckling and her arms not wanting to let go.

Looking back, Alisha never really had a chance. Diagnosed at age 13 years with acute myelogenous leukemia, she went from her pediatrician to the emergency department to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) within a few hours. Her white blood cell count was higher than 300 000/μL and she was struggling to breathe. Within a day she was intubated. Nothing was breaking her way.

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