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A Piece of My Mind
March 25, 1998

After the Miracle

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(12):906. doi:10.1001/jama.279.12.906

I am balancing a chicken salad sandwich, a package of strawberry Twizzlers, and a bowl of fruit cocktail—delivering lunch exactly as ordered to my friend Richard. Just four days ago, in an 11-hour operation, Richard received a transplanted liver. He stands now in the hospital lobby, bundled into his bathrobe and leaning precariously against a loaded IV pole. I start to visualize microbes coasting darkly toward him through the revolving door 10 feet away. He is negotiating with two women in striped aprons at the front desk, requesting a private room, calmly reaching over the counter to collect one of their cards "so that I can call, if I don't hear from you before I need to make other plans." And I am ashamed, for I am the one who has too easily given in to his demand that we leave the surgical ward for lunch.