The lead surgeon lifted her scalpel so a nurse could clear the cavity of blood and fluid. A monitor kept a steady beat, although the future of the patient was not in doubt. Other than the doctor barking orders, the only sound came from the monitors. The surgeon didn’t abide by the mundane chitchat so typical in many operating rooms.
The Fort Stewart morgue was the only such facility in the country with a surgical unit. If Global’s plans came to fruition, there would be more. While the surgeon prepped the removal of the man’s heart, another team concentrated on extracting the kidneys, pancreas, and intestines. The army had flown in the surgical units to handle the procedure, although it was routine.
MPs stood watch at the door.
“Saw,” the surgeon ordered, holding out her hand.
A nurse placed the power tool in the doctor’s hands. The room filled with the rhythmic sound of the electric device and the cracking of ribs. The surgeon held the saw to her right, and the nurse replaced it with a rib spreader. Once the chest was extended, the surgeon used a scalpel to separate the aorta and the pulmonary artery. She next sliced the pulmonary vein and aorta, causing a mass of blood to pulse from the heart.
On cue, the nurse suctioned the pooling blood. With the heart emptied, the surgeon expertly snipped the superior and viii inferior venae cavae, being careful to leave enough length for the transplant team. Once finished, she scooped the heart out of the cavity and placed it in a pan. Seconds later, a technician whisked the organ away.
She exhaled. “OK, now let’s take out the lungs.”
A technician assisting with the kidney removal took the opportunity to say, “I wonder what put this guy in a coma. He can’t be over twenty-five years old and there’s no trauma.”
“Cut the chatter,” the lead surgeon commanded, and once again the monitors were the only sound in the cramped room.
The teams, supplemented by other surgeons, removed the lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, spleen, eyes, and blood vessels. They would be put to good use. While mechanical organs were available, nothing was as effective as the real thing.
Six patients in Georgia—all Series As, the elites—would benefit.
The procedures completed, a technician removed the tubes keeping the man alive. An orderly wheeled away the body to prepare for cremation. After the surgical teams washed up, they were hustled off the base to a waiting Gulfstream VIII for a return flight to Fort Bliss.
As far as the personnel at Fort Stewart was concerned, the procedure never happened.