Santa Maria del Rosell hospital, Cartagena, Spain. 4.00pm, 24 July 2045. The hospital is a red brick and featureless modern building. It is quiet outside. The only sound is the rasping of cicadas. It is siesta time and it is very hot. In a room on the second floor air con helps to make it bearable. There is one patient in the room. He lies quietly on the bed. Beside the bed a couple of machines monitor his vital signs. There are two nurses in the room, the nuns Sister Dolores and Sister Francesca. They are watching the patient with concern.
“I don’t think he can last much longer.”
“Yes, the end may come soon I think.”
“What this patient needs is a priest, not a doctor.”
“A priest…under the circumstances would that be appropriate?”
“I don’t know what the teaching is on these things.”
They stop talking and look at the patient. On the bed a hamster lies dying. Even though he knows that in days, maybe even hours, it will all be over he is facing death with courage and dignity. The white bed sheets are tightly drawn across the top of the bed. His forelegs lie on top of the sheets, leaving only his head and chest visible. His signature Rayblokkers rest on the top of his pink little nose. Only death will part him from those Rayblokkers. His breathing is slow and quiet. He is flickering in and out of consciousness.
Sister Dolores decides to act. “I’m worried. I’m going to page Dr Delgado.”
She makes the call. In a few minutes Dr Delgado is at the patient’s bedside.
“What’s the problem?”
“The vital signs; I think he’s going.”
Dr Delgado leans over the patient to make an assessment.
“There’s only one thing that can save this patient: a full brain to body transplant. It is lucky for him that we have a suitable donor. An English tourist drowned in a swimming pool late last night. A tragic accident.”
“Harry, Mr Harry, can you hear me? This is Dr Delgado. I’ve been looking after you during your stay here at Santa Maria del Rosell. Please say if you can hear me, or nod your head.”
The hamster gives a little nod.
“This is very important. You urgently need a brain to body transplant and we have a suitable donor. We can operate now but we need your consent. You must let me know if you understand what is happening.”
Slowly the hamster raises a foreleg and pushes the Rayblokkers onto his forehead.
“I must warn you there are certain risks associated with this operation,” says Dr Delgado. The two Sisters murmur agreement in a concerned tone. The hamster raises his head a little from the pillow. His voice is quiet and weak.
“Harry says ….go for it.”