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A Night in the PICU

It was just Before Christmas in the PICU when the second of two brothers was declared brain-dead. The parents couldn’t bear being present this time. It was late at night when we gathered in the room. The intensivist and I, the respiratory therapist shared a wordless conversation. He switched off the ventilator. The monitor screamed until someone turned it off. With silent tears, we all went about our jobs. I wheeled the machine out of the room, as George Winston’s Thanksgiving played softly. I held it until the elevator doors closed, then sobbed all the way to the basement equipment room. I refuse to harden chanted in my head. I refuse.

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