In the near future…
“I am very sorry to tell this to you, but the situation is dramatic. The pneumonia is at a very advanced stage. Ho is it possible that you come just now?”
“The doctor from the town, we have come from told us a week before that it was just bronchitis, and gave a recipe for a cough medicine.”
“Such a serious pneumonia could not develop in a week from bronchitis. Probably it had already been pneumonia that time, and your doctor didn’t recognize it. He should have given you antibiotics, not only a cough medicine.”
Parents were terrified.
“Doctor! What is your prognosis?” asked the mother.
“Not good! We have applied strong antibiotics to your son, and he is inhaling a hundred per cent oxygen from respirator, in order to reduce an effort of his lungs. His lungs, however, suffer a great bacteria infection. I’m sorry to day it, but it can be deadly.”
The mother burst in tears, and her husband hugged her.
“He is only nine!”
Few minutes later they came to their son’s room, still with tears in their eyes. Jacek was lying in a bed and looking at his parents. He couldn’t say anything, because of the respirator on his face. Everything he had to put down on a sheet of paper. It was a slow form of communication, as writing was a relatively new skill for the boy. Soon his father had to go, but mom stay with Jacek. She was on a sick leave for her child.
Two days passed, and nothing new happened. Strong medicines reduced the spreading of the disease, but could not stop it. Both parents were at their son’s bed, when the doctor entered the room.
“May I ask you for a moment?”
Parents walked on a corridor.
“There may be a chance, not big, but a chance. Your son needs a lungs transplantation. I would not count on a situation when someone at his age has an accident, and his parents agree for transplantation. Such a probability is extremely low, and we don’t have more than a month… or even less. However, Professor Szewczyk-Dratewka has been working over fifteen years on building artificial lungs. Recent development of nanotechnology allowed him to make artificial lungs for a monkey. They were implanted about half a year ago. For this time everything is all right; the implanted lungs have been completely accepted by the organism. A monkey, however, is not a human. If you make a decision, your son will be the first person. I would only advise you to decide quickly. Approximately five days are needed to prepare your son to a surgery, and also a day to move him to Szewczyk-Dratewka’s clinic.”
They did not sleep that night. They agreed in the morning.
The surgery was successful. in fact the parents didn’t even have to pay a lot, as the major cost was paid from the research fund. Szewczyk-Dratewka was rewarded for a great medical achievement, and the parents got their son back, the only son.
Years were passing, and the artificial lungs were constantly working very well. The Professor was rewarded several more times, mainly for coupling the lungs with nervous system. It was really a great achievement, far more complex than for example a pacemaker. The artificial lungs had a micro controller chip, pretty small, able to receive and decode brain signals. It was no problem with supply voltage simply because there was a low-power generator which converted body heat to electricity. All this was closed inside a perfectly sealed housing, and placed under Jacek’s heart. Lungs together with bronchitis were made of a special kind of plastic, fully accepted by an organism. They were connected to a throat on one side and veins surrounding bronchitis on another side. Masterpiece!
Jacek lived a pretty normal life. At the age of sixteen parents caught him in act of smoking cigarettes with his schoolmates. It wasn’t easy to persuade him to stop smoking, as parents simply could not use the argument of lung cancer. Their son was indeed fully lung-cancer-proof . However, he was also a good boy, and gave up smoking.
Two years later he had a girlfriend, and was about to go with her on a special ball before their mature exam. Jacek drove to her flat to pick Barbara up.
“Darling! You look wonderful! I like this new dress very much!”
“I knew you would like it. It was bought especially for you… Well, I guess we must hurry. Say ‘Hi’ to my parents, and we’re off.”
Five minutes later they were in Jacek’s car.
“Honey, we are just about to graduate from school in several weeks. This ball is special, the only one in a lifetime. I thought… just thought we could leave after about two or three hours, and spend this evening together, just two of us. I’ve rented a room in a motel.” said Jacek showing Barbara a key.
“You’ve rented a room… Is it a proposal for our first time?” asked she with a little smile.
“No, of course not! “ answered Jacek. ”Well… maybe… yes, it is. Or… let’s just spend a nice time and see what happens.”
“We… can return to that talk in a few hours.” smiled Barbara.
Soon they arrived, and entered the ball hall. They welcomed friends, and took their seats. The headmaster made a welcome speech. The first dance was the next point of the program. Of course Jacek was dancing with his girlfriend. After the first dance several guys from their class performed a cabaret show. In fact it was poor – microphones were not configured properly, so everyone could hardly hear the skit. However, everybody had already knew it as guys were not performing am original show. And so the first hour of the ball passed, and Jacek just couldn’t wait for the second hour to pass as well…
But the party didn’t last for so long. Suddenly four masked men entered the hall, and fired shots in the air.
“Everybody fall down! Or we will start killing!”
Panic dominated the crowd. The attackers, two at the main door and two at the emergency exit, threw several cans among the students and left, barricading both exit doors.
Everybody was trying to escape, but was only running around. Jecek and Barbara were standing under the stage.
“Honey, what are we going to do now?” asked she.
Jacek didn’t reply. Not only he didn’t know what to say, but soon the stage collapsed, pushed by the crowd. Wooden planks hit them, and a huge speaker falling down was the last thing they saw.
Jacek’s parents were watching TV.
“We are interrupting the program to give you the latest news. A terrorist attack on St Nicolai’s Secondary School. Gas containers were thrown into the gym hall, where the mature ball was taking place. Many fatal cases…”
“Can you hear what I hear?”
“Terrorists from the Free Middle East group are suspected to be responsible” continued the speaker.
Shocked, they were looking at a TV screen. Suddenly they recovered from the shock.
“Quickly! Let’s go there!” said father.
When they arrived, the police and firemen had already set a perimeter, and let no one in.
“Our baby! Our son was on the ball. We need to get there” said mother to a policeman.
“I’m sorry, but we aren’t supposed to let anyone in.” answered he.
“Oh my God, my son! One time we had him saved from death, and now he’s gone!”
Father hugged her. He always was a support and reliance for her. Mother was crying terribly. Father also had tears in his eyes.
Another policeman approached them.
“Families of the victims? Follow me!” said he.
They did as they were told. The policeman led them through the crowd in the beginning, and several parents of other students joined them. Finally, they got into a tent within the perimeter.
“We still haven’t found some bodies.” said the policeman, when they entered.
The tent was filled with sobbing, cries, and sometimes screams of panic. Each few minutes another parent recognized his child.
Jacek also was there, lying on a blanket on the floor next to Barbara. Parents approached him. Mother was in tears, patting his head. Father who until now had been self-possessed, burst in tears.
“I don’t know if it is the best moment to say about it…” loudly said the doctor to all gathered parents, “but I suppose any moment won’t be good. These young people were attacked by a new generation deadly gas which strongly irritates the tissue of lungs and bronichities, causing them to narrow. All your children had a kind of hard asthma attack. It’s impossible to survive it…”
Mother wasn’t listening to the doctor at all. She just took her son’s head and hugged it.
Suddenly she shouted:
“Doctor! Can you come here quickly?”
The doctor approached her.
“I’m not sure, but I felt… something, like my son was breathing. Is it possible?”
The doctor examined him.
“Yes, indeed!” shouted he in excitement. “He is unconscious, but for sure alive. He’s breathing!”
Jacek had many bruises all over his body and several bones broken, but his artificial lungs were intact.
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