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Don’t forget the family

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 07 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3486
  1. Timothy C Mulherin, second year medical student, Deakin University, Melbourne
  1. tmulherin1{at}

    I stood beside the bed in silence. Emotional confusion overpowered the urge to speak. The room was silent except for the drone of the ventilator and the clicking of the drug pumps. “Take all the time you need. Let us know when you’re ready,” the intensivist said. Two hours later we were “ready”—as ready as we were ever going to be. The doctor came into the crowded room and turned off the ventilator. He twisted the monitor around so that we couldn’t see it. He walked out silently. A long 10 minutes would be an understatement. Ben struggled to breathe, fluid rattling in his lungs. And then he breathed his last. Six months earlier my 23 year old brother was fit and healthy and was completing his science degree to progress on to medicine. Natural killer cell lymphoma wasn’t even looming on the horizon; the only hint of it was a small pea-sized lump on his leg. …

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