“His chart, doctor.” The tall man in white took a clipboard from the attending nurse, watching her for a moment as she circled to the other side of the patient’s bed to adjust the IV and check on his vitals. A frown passed the doctor’s brow as he turned his eyes back down to the paper in front of him, concern writing itself on his feature.
“Looks like anaemia,” the doctor mused out loud, searching for input from the nurse.
“All the symptoms point to it. He’s developing pretty sever koilonychias, and when they arrived with him, these cracks on the side of his mouth where bleeding. His skin is abnormally cold, and I don’t think I’ve seen someone so pale outside of a haunted house or vampire movie.” The nurse put her hands on her hips, conveying seriousness for a moment before letting a small smirk slip onto her mouth when the doctor had snorted a little at her quip.
“Seems the most likely case. We should wait for the blood work, but get him ready for a blood transfusion. I’ll give you the go ahead once I get the lab report back.” She nodded and the doctor discarded the chart into its holder at the end of the patient’s bed, moving swiftly towards the exit.
He ran a hand through his hair while he walked, a little overwhelmed. He was finishing up a eighteen hour shift and the night was wearing on him.
He had only been out of medical school for a few years, obvious in the smoothness of his under-weathered faced and in the way that he still second guessed himself subtly. Quite often he felt like a teenager parading around in adult clothing. It was always a little off-putting when someone even younger than himself showed up in a bed with such a serious condition. He had honestly never seen someone survive when they come in looking as lifeless as that boy.
“Doctor.” He looked over his shoulder quickly when he was beckoned, seeing another white coated colleague jogging his way down the corridor. He halted his quick stride so that the lab technician could catch up with him.
“I got the kid’s tests finished up. I think you should see this.” There was a particular note in his voice which the doctor recognized as uncertainty, and apprehension was written on his features as he held out a stack of papers. The doctor frowned a little and took them, scanning eyes over the words quickly.
“This can’t be right,” he said firmly, shaking his head a little, “the kid is obviously iron deficient. With the levels of iron you have recorded here he would be-.”
“He would be in cardiac arrest. I know,” the technician finished the doctor’s sentence, taking the papers back and moving so they could both look at them. He flipped through the many pages to show his thorough investigation.
“Believe me, I thought that too. I checked five times. These are his iron levels, I have no doubt.”
“But these are high enough to kill a person.” The doctor’s expression turned bewildered.
“These are high enough that the person would already be dead,” the technician corrected.
The two shared a short look, one that all doctors knew. It was a look of hesitancy, when someone had to make a decision even though they had no confidence in their options. Suddenly both men were children again, with the life of another human being resting on their shoulders.
“Karman!” the doctor yelled down the hall, and the nurse stuck her head out of the patient’s room.
“Start the blood transfusion!” he commanded, turning to make his way back. She frowned in confusion by his startlingly demanding tone, but nodded and ducked back out of sight.
“Wait, Andrew. Are you sure about this?” The lab technician’s voice was nervous, his steps hurried to keep up with the doctor’s rushed pace.
“If he’s anaemic with high levels of iron like this, it could be that he’s used to much higher levels. Giving him regular blood, with a fraction of this, could kill him.”
“Symptoms are not science Kenneth. Just because it looks like he is anaemic doesn’t mean he is. The numbers say he has high iron. Those numbers need to be brought down, or else he’s going to die.” It was obvious that the doctor was not confident in his decision, but it was all he knew to do.
A sharp scream from the patient’s room interrupted them suddenly, and both men watched horror write itself on the other’s expression before they sprinted the last few meters.