A Glimpse of Chapter One

The metallic bird crouched on the steamy asphalt pad like an enormous vulture, eagerly anticipating its prey. Within minutes it would lift off from the heliport at Miami Children’s Hospital and separate us from everyone familiar, from everything safe, reasonable, or fair. The paramedics lifted the gurney, locked its wheels in place, and adjusted our son’s intravenous lines as I cautiously climbed inside this alien machine, dragging duffle bags and a borrowed suitcase along. I had quickly packed our meager hospital belongings while the orange-clad transport team prepared James for his four-hour flight to Gainesville in North Florida. Our hope hung precariously on the helicopter blades; our son’s heart was hanging by a thread…

In a way, our lives had become a jumble of black threads scattered in a landscape of underground land mines where bombs frequently, unexpectedly detonated. With each successive explosion, with each shattering diagnosis, we were forced to undergo the tremors of war. Now, we had embarked on the most difficult campaign. After four and a half years of scrambling through surgeries, procedures, doctors, surgeons, specialists, ambulances, and incisions, the medical consensus was grim—a heart transplant was James’ only available option. Every other avenue was literally a dead-end…

The helicopter’s rapid descent startled both of us, and I saw James’ eyelids flutter open as we landed on the roof of the eleven-story Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. The transport team unlocked the wheels, lifted the gurney down, and barreled through the first set of electronic doors. Rapidly, they pushed his gurney down corridors, around corners, into an elevator, through doorways, past nurses’ stations and into the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). They were expecting us.

“Mrs. Mitchell, I am Dr. Jay Fricker.”

The chief pediatric cardiologist and the medical director of pediatric heart transplants bent down and shook our little boy’s hand as if he were meeting a dignitary. His eyes were kind, and a full beard surrounded a warm smile as he continued, “And this must be James.”

(To purchase your own copy of the newly released Journey for the Heart – go to the top of this page and touch the BOOKS tab. It’s as easy as that!)

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2 Comments

  1. Wendy Larson

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! This is a wonderful tribute again to honor James’ life!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Mitchell

      Thank you Wendy

      Reply

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