Friday, April 22, 2011

Saving Face

The medical team was in a race
Against some resistant bacteria;
A colony found a young boy’s face
To treat as their own cafeteria

The miracle team investigates
Against some religious criteria;
The “promoter of justice” tries their fates
As they battle with strep or listeria

The desperate parents said their prayers
As conditions grew frankly horrific
They pleaded for help from the man upstairs
Whose germs were a bit too prolific

Operations and antibiotics combined
Broad-spectrum, as well as specific
Saved young Jake’s life, although we’ll find
The church is more unscientific

The search for answers sometimes leads
To a cultural bit of division:
A difference that comes from their separate needs
May find science and church in collision

A team of priests has been working for years
As a bishop provides supervision
And if adequate evidence really appears
Well… they won’t let that stop their decision

I'm actually glad I didn't read the byline of this NPR story today; knowing it was Barbara Bradley Hagerty's contribution might have been enough to keep me away. (I'm ridiculously hard to bother, as even Mabus must have figured out by now, but BBH's voice makes me want to take a dremel drill to my inner ear.) But Jake FInkbonner, the kid at the center of the story, really seems like a good guy, and I am glad I got to hear about him.

Jake had a minor accident at the end of a basketball game, but the small cut on his lip turned nasty--necrotizing fasciitis nasty. This is the horrible "flesh-eating bacteria" that took Jim Henson from us, and it nearly took Jake. At Seattle Children's Hospital, doctors tried to stay a step ahead of the bacteria, literally carving away parts of Jake's face as they became infected.

Massive antibiotics and more than 20 surgeries later, Jake is lucky to be alive. So lucky, in fact, that some are calling it a miracle. And the Church is investigating. That, really, is the reason for the NPR story--a peek inside the Church's saint factory, to see the process of attaining sainthood, and the strict, skeptical procedure (you may feel free to roll your eyes here; I did) used to evaluate potential miracles, like Jake's. It is annoying, in the way that BBH usually is. To me, at least.

But there is good news. Jake turns out to be a really great kid. He may or may not believe it was a bona fide miracle--I certainly wouldn't blame him if he did--but on his home page, he ends his story thusly (comic sans in the original):
I am so thankful to the doctors at Children's Hospital in Seattle that saved my life. 
Not everybody remembers to thank their doctors.

Take a look at his site--there are pics there, and you can see what a nightmare the poor kid made it through. More, you can see what kind of a person he is--the kind that is better than a certified miracle any day.


jDub said...

That NPR story almost had me yelling at my radio this morning. I'm happy for Jake, though, and congratulations to (in Hitchens' recent words) "the skill and principle of advanced medical science."

entropy said...

I currently have no desire to feel like pounding an iron rod through my head, so I'll avoid the NPR story.

The doggerel, as you call it, was quite excellent, so I'll just ride away on that, skipping the media-induced headache.

Melissa said...

Ugh! I've heard so many people credit miracles, angels, or gods for medical recoveries. It grates my nerves. The doctors and researchers deserve all the credit and put years of work into what they do, but they seem to get overlooked for sky fairies and magic.

Cuttlefish said...

Agreed, Melissa!

At least this story has them speaking honestly about thinking his recovery was "miraculous". So often, the M word is thrown around with plausible deniability; when called on it, there is a retreat to "oh, we didn't mean 'miracle' literally!"

Here, they mean it literally.

At least the kid knows who to thank.