^ Well, let's just say I hated that ending.
Bashir and Girani had hoped to further their case for their young patient. Hopefully, by explaining how quick and painless the procedure of providing Aron with a healthy supply of blood, they could persuade the boy’s parents. Bashir had a strong sense that it was a futile gesture since Crag and Katalia had embraced a simple and agrarian lifestyle and rigidly adhered to a set of antiquated religious beliefs. But that they were here on this station, seeking help from a Starfleet doctor, he was hopeful that they were open to anything that would save their child’s life.
“By providing him healthy red and white cells,” Girani explained while indicating a graphic of the humanoid cardiovascular system, “that will compensate for the crystallization effect on his own blood. And this healthy blood supply will sufficiently oxygenate the rest of his organs and allow proper functioning of his immune system.”
“This will be the first of periodic transfusions that will have to be performed on a monthly basis,” Bashir added. “Over time, a healthy blood supply will eventually cleanse his bloodstream of neporazine.”
“He’ll need a day or two of rest after this transfusion,” Girani assured the still skeptical parents. “But he is young and strong. It’s a simple procedure.”
“We completely understand the procedure,” Crag scoffed. “And that is why we will not allow it.”
“We would be cheating the will of the Prophets,” Katalia reiterated, “by forsaking their gift of life. It cannot be permitted.”
Then why bother coming here?
Bashir wanted to ask them. While they balked that the idea of using advanced technology, they sought those who had it at their disposal, and for what? Just to get a second opinion in order to confirm that there was no help for Aron that did not violate their backward beliefs. At least you didn’t use that word “backward” out loud, Julian. Any first year med student knows about respect for alien belief systems no matter absurd or antiquated they sounded by Earth or Federation standards.
“So you’re just going to let him die?” Girani asked with astonishment. “What kind of gods do you worship?”
Bashir gave a quick chastising stare in Girani’s direction, but his attention was soon diverted by Crag’s look of subdued annoyance. “There is no further point in discussing this,” the Bajoran man said with a restrained grunt.
“Hold on,” Bashir blurted out, raising a hand. Both Crag and Katalia were headed towards the exam room when the doctor attempted to offer them an alternative solution. “We may have an alternative solution,” he continued with a slight hesitation in his voice. “We can provide a series of platelet and plasma injections. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, they can begin to restructure Aron’s red and white cells that can provide a partially adequate blood flow to the internal organs, along with doubling the dosage of drugs already being used to counter the effects of neporazine. It will take longer and has less of a guarantee of success.
Katalia and Crag looked at each other, and then back at the two doctors. “We need to discuss it alone,” said Katalia.
“Of course,” Bashir said with an approving nod. He slowly made a beeline for the Infirmary’s main entrance, with Girani right behind.
They stepped out onto the Promenade, and the second the doors closed, Girani stepped in front of Bashir. “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded in a very confrontational tone. “You and I both know this ‘alternative solution’ will only prolong the boy’s suffering.”
Bashir momentarily had an idea of what Commander Sisko had to deal with from Major Kira on a daily basis. Bajorans had a stereotypical tendency to say what was on their mind with a bluntness that most humans found off-putting. That was certainly the case when Girani lashed out at the parents the way she did, and now with her being confrontational towards a superior. “I’d ask the same thing,” Bashir fired back with restrained exasperation. “You should never insult a patient’s beliefs. I wanted you on this case because I thought you would sympathize with their beliefs.”
“I believe in the Prophets as they do, Doctor,” Girani tersely explained. “I simply find their…interpretations…of that belief rather strange given the times we live in now.”
Bashir gave a rueful nod at having been too quick to stereotype Bajorans and their religious beliefs, which he had tried his best not to do in the presence of the Talas family. “There are certain groups of humans who still follow ancient tribal practices as well,” he replied, “a lot of whom reside on Earth. We respect their right to live as they choose, which is one of the Federation’s most sacred principles.”
“That’s very commendable,” Girani agreed, “but also rather hollow when a child’s life is at stake. What you’re proposing will, at best, prolong his life by a few weeks.”
“Of course it will,” Bashir confirmed. “But hopefully, this will buy some extra time and convince the parents to let me do what should
be done. Sometimes, you have to heal the family before you can heal the patient.”
Girani nodded in agreement just as the doors to the Infirmary separated. Crag and Katalia slowly emerged from the medical ward and gave attentive stares at both doctors. “We will consent to this alternative solution,” Crag declared.
“We’ll get started right away,” Bashir said with a wide and boyish smile.
Orinoco ready for departure,”
came the voice of Lieutenant Jadzia Dax.
“Confirmed,” Kira replied while seated at the primary piloting station of the Ganges
The outer door of the landing bay glided open. The runabout’s landing pad then rose upwards until the ship was perched on top of the station’s habitat ring. The runabout’s thrusters elevated the ship just above the station’s hull and veered away. The Orinoco
followed from the stern of the Ganges
. The two ships moved briskly away from the station and then streaked into warp.
“We’re bound to encounter a few Breen interceptors,” Kira informed the other runabout’s pilot. “Suggest minimal chatter until we reach the transport. We don’t want to attract any attention. Just get in and get out quickly.”
replied the masculine voice of the Orinoco
Bashir sat at the Ops table during a staff briefing, patiently waiting for a chance to discuss his dilemma with Commander Sisko. Over the last few minutes, he had tuned out Chief of Operations Miles O’Brien and Security Chief Odo discussing a problem with one of the surveillance networks. It was another one of those problems resulting from efforts to mix Federation and Cardassian technology. These failures in the station’s security network had become commonplace ever since Starfleet had taken control of the Cardassian mining station. It had proved most inconvenient this week because of a round of thefts in two cargo holds and security was stretched rather thin due to other priorities.
The discussion then shifted to Lieutenant Dax’s next scientific expedition in the Gamma Quadrant. Bashir knew these issues were important to the station as a whole and one of Starfleet’s ongoing missions in the Bajoran sector. Holding these staff meetings, though, seemed like an inefficient use of everyone’s time when each of the department heads was busy with their own individual projects.
“I suppose that’s all for today,” Sisko said after those discussions had ended. He looked over at Bashir and was quickly reminded of what had recently occupied his time. “Doctor, how’s your young patient doing?”
“A simple blood transfusion will save his life,” Bashir glumly answered, “but the parents won’t allow it.”
“I understand Mister and Missus Talas,” Odo chimed in, “belong to a particular sect of the Bajoran faith believes in leading a relatively primitive lifestyle and has strict prohibitions against certain medical procedures. They even refused to fight the Cardassians during the Occupation out of a belief that all
life is sacred.”
Bashir scoffed at hearing the constable’s brief synopsis of his clients’ beliefs. “But they’re not showing a lot of respect for the life of their own son” he remarked.
“I’m sure you did your best in helping them to consider all possible options, Julian,” Dax offered with a light grin.
Bashir smirked back, being reminded of his recent failures to court Jadzia ever they first set foot on the station. “Well, that’s just it. For a people who lead a primitive lifestyle, they still came to this technologically advanced space station for help. They most likely had a good idea of what recommendations I’d be making going in, yet they have seemingly rejected those recommendations out of hand.”
“Never hurts to get a second opinion,” Sisko opined. “I know from my own experiences that a parent’s instinct to protect their children often overrides everything else.”
“Still,” Bashir said with a frustrated sigh, “to be in a position to save a child’s life, yet be prevented from acting, it just isn’t right. You could intervene, sir, by signing an order authorizing me to perform the procedure.”
“I could,” agreed Sisko. “But it would be setting a dangerous precedent. I would be saying Federation rules supersede the beliefs of any Bajoran. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to find another way to resolve this situation.”
“If only I knew what that was,” Bashir lamented.
Sisko offered Bashir a sympathetic grin. “I know none of your medical ethics classes could have prepared you for a situation like this, but this is the sort of dilemma we all would have to face at one time or another. I will meet with the parents myself before rendering a final decision on this matter. Is that satisfactory?”
“Of course, sir,” Bashir begrudgingly replied. “Thank you, sir. I should be getting back to my patient now.”
He headed back towards the port turbolift considering the applicable medical ethics of this whole situation. By all rights, he was ethically obligated to honor the wishes of his patients and their families, even if that meant refusing a life-saving medical procedure. With a child’s life hanging in the balance, that basic truism was of little comfort to him. His mind kept going back to the Smith and Jones scenarios presented in his introductory medical ethics course. Those hypothetical scenarios were meant to indicate that whether one chose to terminate the life of another or allowed the death of another individual through inaction, that person was making a conscious choice to cause another person’s death. That was how he viewed his situation. Maybe a Cardassian labor camp overseer could be that apathetic, but not Julian Bashir.