Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 46
A young woman was dying. Tuberculosis was eating away her larynx slowly, a little more each day, until now she could talk only in a whisper. Inevitably it would soon choke her to death. And so that she might be nearer her home folks in those last horrible days, she was bought to the Waverly hospital from one farther distant and I was called in to see her.
She was a pretty little thing with a strangely beautiful smile. A happiness was hers; although she knew that death was clutching at her body, she knew also that within her was life. She was with child.
She whispered something to me and I leaned down to catch the words. "I am going to die, Doctor, soon. I don't mind that. I have only one request before I go. May I see my baby? Is there any way?"
I hesitated. What was there for me to say?
"Please, Doctor, I won't mind being hurt. I wouldn't mind anything if I could only see my baby." Her frail hand clutched my sleeve feebly, frantically.
"I will try," I said and with that I left the room, shaken, realizing the enormity of my problem. But that little white face, that whispering voice would not let me say no. What could I do! I went to my colleagues and talked it over with them. They agreed that we had no precedent to follow, that any operation was virtually out of the question. But we finally decided on an unusual thing--our only chance--a Caesarian operation under a local anaesthetic.
I told my patient and her family, explaining the hazards of such procedure. But the little patient would hear of nothing but that we try; her happiness was touching. And her family, realizing that the operation was the only way of giving her one desire, consented.
So the next day, assisted by Dr. Kern, and with Dr. Graening to watch the condition of the patient and care for the child, I began the operation. I injected the anaesthetic and made the incision without any special difficulty, taking from the dying mother a fine, healthy baby girl.
The mother rallied nicely. When they brought the child to her, great tears welled up in her eyes, trickled down her hollow cheeks. "Oh, my baby! My little girl!" she whispered with joy and pain so intermixed in her words that they cut us to our hearts. She looked up at me. "Thank you, Doctor. God bless you. I can die now and be happy. I have seen my child. She's a lovely baby, isn't she?" and she patted the little rosebud fists of the sleeping child.
As we had expected, scarcely forty-eight hours after the operation the mother died, choking her life out.
And the baby? She thrived and few under Dr. Graening's care. She is now a woman and a mother.