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Chapter 55

A mile-wide grin spread over Dr. Adele’s face as he found himself looking down into Brian’s clear blue eyes.

“Welcome back to us, Brian,” he said, smiling down at his patient.

Brian looked utterly confused, and Dr. Adele didn’t blame him. After all, he had been unconscious for most of the past week. He had no idea that he had had a transplant or even that his brother had died. The smile left the doctor’s as he realized how hard it would be for Brian to find that out. He decided he would leave that up to Brian’s family.

“You’ve been in a coma for the past few days, Brian,” Dr. Adele explained gently. “But you’re alive, and you have a new heart.”

Brian’s eyes widened, and Dr. Adele smiled in relief, glad that Brian understood what he had just been told. Although Brian had awoken, which was a great sign, Dr. Adele had still been worried that he might have suffered brain damage. But so far, things were looking good.

“Yes, you had a heart transplant. There were some complications during surgery, and that’s why you were in the coma, but your new heart seems to be working fine.”

Brian’s eyes held many emotions, ranging from fear to awe. He opened his mouth, as if he were trying to talk, but Dr. Adele quickly hushed him. “You can’t talk right now because there’s a breathing tube down your throat. For now, we have to leave it there, but maybe later today I can pull it for you. Sound okay?” Brian weakly nodded. “Now, how would you like to see your friends? They’re out in the waiting room, and they don’t even know you’re awake. Do you want me to get them?” Brian’s eyes lit up, and once again, he managed a weak nod. “Okay. Be right back,” Dr. Adele said, offering Brian a quick smile before leaving the room.

***

Nick looked up when Brian’s doctor entered the waiting room, a lump of dread settling in the pit of his stomach. What more could go wrong? he wondered, half angry. Why couldn’t this doctor make his friend get better? He knew blaming Dr. Adele for this was pointless, because the doctor was trying his best. Nick knew that really, he should be blaming himself. Although, with the help of the other guys and Brian’s parents, he had gotten over some of his guilt, the feeling that he was responsible for this whole tragedy still hovered in the back of his mind.

“Dr. Adele?” Howie asked, slowly standing to meet the doctor as he approached them.

“Great news, guys,” Dr. Adele said, smiling widely at them.

“He’s coming out of the coma?” Nick asked hopefully, sitting forward in his wheelchair.

“Even better,” Dr. Adele replied. “He is out of the coma.”

Nick practically leaped out his chair in excitement, only to have AJ reach out to hold him back. “Calm down, Nicky,” he said with a laugh. Nick sat back, but the excited gleam in his eyes never left.

“When?” Howie asked.

“Just a few minutes ago,” Dr. Adele said. “I sent Nick out so I could check the monitors, and then he woke up. I talked to him, and he was unable to talk back because of his breathing tube, but he understood what I was saying. That’s a very good sign.”

“Wow,” AJ said, grinning. “What a turn around. Yesterday, we all thought he might now make it.”

“I know,” Dr. Adele said. “I don’t know what to make of it.”

“Can we see him now?” Nick asked, fidgeting in his chair, his eyes hopeful.

“Of course,” Dr. Adele replied, smiling warmly at Brian’s best friend. “I just told Brian I’d send you in.”

“Thanks,” Howie said, smiling at the doctor. He got behind Nick’s chair and pushed him out the door, AJ walking along behind them. Together, they headed down the hall to Brian’s room.

Chapter 56