It’s Sam’s birthday today. The fact that he can celebrate another year of life is perhaps the most miraculous feat of medical technology that I have personally seen.
Sam is the smartest and most selfless individual I have ever met. When we were seniors in college, he won first prize at the international science fair for his work towards developing a cure for a rare form of leukemia. This particular form of leukemia has a genetic component that has afflicted several of his family members, so he set off at age 15 to isolate the genetic mutation.
He liked me, for some reason. He asked me to prom. He’s one of the few guys who has ever given me flowers.
My freshman year in college on Valentine’s day, 2008, I got a call that Sam had been in a car accident. He fell asleep at the wheel of his Geo Prism and smashed into a tree going upwards of 40 mph. His car had to be sawed in half in order to get him out. He was air-lifted to the hospital for treatment, but the impact from the crash had destroyed the left temporal lobe of his brain. The remains of the damaged region were extracted in surgery, but other areas were battered and swollen. One of his lungs collapsed, and one of his optic nerves was wrecked. His outlook was bleak, and Doctors and family members teetered on the brink of pulling the plug. But they ultimately decided he was going to fight it out on life-support.
Sam spent the next three months in a coma. But he finally woke up! His family members were in the hospital every day with him, taking care of him and ensuring he got the best treatment possible. His mom is a nurse, so she knows what to do. I’ve visited him the few times I’ve gone home since I graduated high school. He has to use a wheel chair to get around, and his mom has to be his translator sometimes, because he can’t communicate very clearly. But he’s still Sam. He still has the same sense of humor.