This week we have a difficult episode for a number of reasons — first off, we have the post-“The Luckiest Man” letdown: ANY episode of television would suffer in comparison to “The Luckiest Man;” next, this episode doesn’t especially feature Andy or David (David doesn’t even appear until nearly the 14 minute mark and disappears well before the end) instead focusing mainly on Dr. Jordan’s patient, Tracy Warren. Finally, the show opens with a murder, an intentional act of violence unlike anything we’ve seen before on Thee Rivers – so it sets a very different tone.
Donor 1: Fred, a good Samaritan, slightly creepy dude, murder victim
Donor 2: Unknown Person, likely a Chinese prisoner who was executed and whose organs were sold on the black market
Recipient: Tracy Warren, good-hearted philanthropist, wife of a tech billionaire
Medical Dilemma: Does having money entitle a person to better health care/quicker access to medical care? What are the pros and cons of having a transplant waiting list system as we do in the United States?
The scene opens at night, with a young woman attempting to change her car’s flat tire. Hearing a car come around the bend, she turns to see, and a man in a mechanic’s jumpsuit (who according to IMDB is named Fred) gets out of his truck to help her. After some small talk, he seems to be making progress with the tire change, but while his back was turned, a young man with a gun has come around the other side of the car – it was a set up. They take the man’s wallet and shoot him, all apparently premeditated and planned. A very cold opening indeed!
At Three Rivers, Andy is treating an ER patient named Nick, a young man who fell down his attic stairs. He has broken his clavicle and the shattered bone pierced an artery so he will require surgery to repair it. Nick is in a great deal of pain.
Across the country in San Fransisco, a swanky fundraiser is underway, checks are written and the cocktails are flowing. The glamorous couple who appear to be hosting this gala are walking around the room together. She is the primary force behind this event. He isn’t a fan of the small-talk circuit, but not because he’s uncharitable — quite the contrary, he mentions he’ll be going to Indonesia in their private jet the very next day on a mission of mercy. She’ll be staying in San Francisco to spend the money raised tonight on relief kits for victims of natural disasters. It’s just easier if we think of these two as Bill and Melinda Gates. As she leaves the podium after thanking her guests,
MelindaTracy collapses on the carpet…. oh noooooo…..
The next morning(? it’s never really made clear…)
Melinda and Bill Tracy and John are in a room at Three Rivers and on a first name basis with Nurse Pam. Dr. Jordan comes in to introduce herself and deliver the news on Tracy’s condition: her liver is non-functional at this time. Tracy had contracted Hepatitis A while doing charity work in Angola, and stress and dehydration back at home exacerbated the condition. She will need a liver transplant. Tracy takes this with good grace. She and John had already planned for this – he is a match for her so can donate her a lobe of his liver. Unfortunately (get used to that word in this episode) Tracy’s condition has leap-frogged past the point where a lobe of John’s liver will help. She needs a 100% new, whole liver. John freaks out a little bit that their plan has been scuttled but Tracy soothes him. Dr. Jordan comments that Tracy’s karma score is probably off the charts, so a hopefully a new liver should come her way soon.
Kuol makes an appearance! He corners Andy at a workstation fussing with the electronic medical records, and when Andy won’t pay him any attention, he pulls away the keyboard and goes to his website. Taa-daa! Andy and Pam are super impressed as Kuol has raised almost $150,000 towards his medical care! Kuol modestly says it’s the picture of The Great Doctor Yablonksi (TGDY is now a thing, ok?) that has raised the money and I suppose Kuol has a point there if he’s inferring that Andy’s face is money!
In Nick’s recovery room, he’s short-tempered and tense, not being very considerate of his wife Beth’s feelings of concern for him. Nick admits to Dr. Foster that he didn’t trip and fall down the stairs, as everyone assumed, but in fact he lost consciousness; this coming after a few weeks of headaches and body aches. Miranda orders up some further tests for Nick.
Back in Youngstown, a priest is giving last rites to our unlucky Samaritan, apparently now brain dead after being shot. The priest gives specific blessing to Fred’s generosity so that others may live, an indication of his impending organ donation.
Quick cut to Andy at a meeting of the Transplant Committee, making a case for Kuol. Could this be the day? He recaps all of Kuol’s tribulations up until this point and the physicians vote unanimously to list Kuol for transplant. Hooray!
The news is on in Tracy’s room, telling us the “Bonnie and Clyde” wannabes from the opening scene have been arrested for murder (double hooray!) as Dr. Jordan enters and lets them know they have found Tracy a liver! (We know of course it’s Fred’s.) They gratefully accept. After Dr. Jordan leaves, Tracy wants to talk worst case scenario with John, but he doesn’t want to hear it – he is certain she will be fine and will not hear talk of any other outcome. Everything is going according to his plan, and I think John is a bit of a control freak.
David and Pam banter as they head off to Youngstown for the liver and on their way out the door receive some awkward clarica from Ryan about how John is a tech billionaire… which we already knew. But whatever! Thanks Ryan!
Andy gets a call on his cell from “Michael” which seems to rattle him, and he makes plans to meet the mysterious caller for lunch. Miranda interrupts his thoughts with bad news on the Nick front. His tests results came back exceptionally odd. Andy re-examines Nick, who is looking really terrible and suffering intensely. Miranda questions Beth and we learn that this couple has been together less than a year, eloped, and still are learning about each other. Nick is only semi-employed and under a great deal of stress. The questions don’t reveal a lot of answers for our doctors.
In Youngstown, David and Pam are procuring the liver when David calls for a pathologist. He sees something that may be a tumor on Fred’s liver… unfortunately, it might not be for Tracy after all. Dr. Jordan delivers the bad news to the Warrens. John again freaks out over the change in plan but Tracy is understanding about how things happen. John corners Dr. Jordan in the bullpen and offers to give Three Rivers endowment money, or fund a new capital project — anything to help get Tracy a liver. Dr. Jordan explains that’s not how it works – John will have to wait, just like everyone else.
Steve meets Poppa McG Andy meets Michael for lunch, where they give each other a big bear hug. Michael continues to remind Andy of his childhood life of crime, inferring a Fagin/Artful Dodger style relationship between the two. Michael insists he’s gone legit and wants to earn a place in Andrew’s life again. Andy seems unsure.
Back at the hospital, Andy and Miranda are conferring with two specialists on Nick’s case. A lot of medical blah blah blah as they House it up, but for some reason Andy never tucked his shirt back in and it’s very distracting. More tests are run and they’ve isolated a virus that may be the cause of Nick’s symptoms. Beth wants a second opinion, but Nick just wants to move forward with treatment.
Oh nooooooooooo John has had enough of waiting and has checked Tracy out of Three Rivers AMA. Dr. Jordan is highly concerned! Bye Tracy and John.
TWO WEEKS LATER!
Nick is still inpatient, but looking better. He’ll be discharged soon and admits to Miranda that his being in the hospital has been a crutch to help him and Beth avoid their marital problems.
Tracy Warren is back and WAY WORSE. She’s brought in via ambulance and Dr. Jordan removes a bandage to reveal a nasty y-shaped incision across Tracy’s entire abdomen. Jack looks remorseful. He admits to Dr. Jordan he took Tracy out of the country to get a transplant. He begs Dr. Jordan to tell him she’ll be OK but she is merciless and says right now it’s 50/50.
Nick gets a phone call, he answers with a stern “Hey Beth,” but is instantly galvanized into action when the caller turns out to be someone calling on Beth’s behalf – she also has lost consciousness while at home. What a coincidence! Nick is distraught but Miranda convinces him to stay put while Beth is brought in to the Three Rivers ER. She is showing many of the same symptoms Nick originally did. Fearing it is something infectious, Miranda orders them both into isolation.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jordan, Dr. Lee and Nurse Acosta have determined why Tracy has fallen so ill — the liver she was transplanted with was partially necrotic (meaning, dead) and full of parasites — they determine that John must have purchased this liver on the black market. Pam is distressed that the saintly Tracy Warren would have done such a thing. Dr. Jordan is intent on repairing the damage done and saving Tracy if possible. David takes the rest of the episode off. Bye David!
TGDY is running a check-up on Kuol and reports that the VAD is working well. Ryan comes in with a list of the individuals who donated money to Kuol’s fund — but it turns out that even though he raised $150,000, most of the money – $131,000 of it – came from one anonymous source, the transaction being made by an attorney from Mt. Washington, which as we remember is the neighborhood Andy grew up in, and now we know where he led a life of juvenile crime. Thrown by the “exact amount” of $131,000, Andy looks concerned.
Dr. Jordan updates the Warrens on her findings about Tracy’s (partially dead and totally full of parasites) liver. It turns out Tracy didn’t know what John had done. She is horrified that a Chinese prisoner may have been killed so his organs could be sold, but John doesn’t care about her principles, only her life. When he admits exactly what he’d done and would do it again, she asks him to leave.
Nick and Beth reunite in isolation and you can see these two really care for each other. They’re so sweet! Miranda and Andy are still stumped on what’s ailing them, however, and finally narrow it down to the one common denominator these two crazy kids have — their house. A quick search reveals the answer – Nick and Beth’s house had previously been a meth lab – and the chemicals used to make methamphetamine had been in the carpet and walls, and they had been breathing in toxic fumes. Some medicine and a new place to live – and they will be right as rain. Mystery solved!
As expected, Tracy has crashed and needs emergency surgery to save her life – which Dr. Jordan performs successfully. She informs John he can visit Tracy in her recovery room but he admits Tracy doesn’t want to see him. Dr. Jordan points out that Tracy is an incredibly forgiving and generous person, and she just might give him a second chance. He takes her advice, apologizes to Tracy, and it does appear as if she is willing to forgive.
Back at the bar, Andy meets up with Michael and sees he’s still keeping bad company, his earlier statements notwithstanding. Michael confesses he donated the money to Kuol, which he had originally given to Andy for medical school and which Andy had paid back. He saw Andy’s friend needed help and he hopes that in the future if he ever needed help, Andy would be there for him. Andy has no intention of being held to his criminal Uncle Mike, and he leaves the bar, distressed at the turn of events. If he accepts the money for Kuol, he’ll be beholden to his Uncle — but how can he give the money back, if the price is Kuol’s life?
Fred extends his kindness to strangers and is killed for his troubles. Tracy contracts hepatitis and works herself nearly to death fundraising for Tsunami victims, dedicating her life to helping others and treating everyone as her equal. At the end of the day, it is her wealth (or her husband’s wealth) that saves her, not her good karma. Kuol needs money for a heart transplant. When a large anonymous donation appears, it appears his troubles are over, but Andy knows the true, and dirty, source of that money. Is the kindness of strangers really all it’s cracked up to be?
Blood donation One alternative to help those with blood loss is blood donation. One pint of blood, which takes about fifteen minutes to donate, can save three lives. And then you get a cookie! Visit America’s Blood Centers to find a donation center near you.
Bone Marrow From the website for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. “For people with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Matchconnects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.” Imagine if your bone marrow could cure a child with leukemia! I encourage you to visit this website and register as a donor. This is a donation you make while still living and in the words of Rebecca from episode 5, “Alone Together,” “if you save one life, you save the world.”