Summary for "Life Support"

From bevsouth@aol.comWed Mar  8 06:09:07 1995
Date: 7 MAR 1995 18:20:58 -0500 
From: BevSouth 
Subject: SUMMARY 2/13/95, corrected  

CHICAGO HOPE, Season 1, Episode 1.5, "Life Support"
Written by David E. Kelley and John Tinker; Story by John Tinker
Directed by Lou Antonio
Original Airdate, February 13, 1995

Alan Birch is in the hospital nursery, singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to
his daughter, when Dr. Jeffrey Geiger comes in and tells Alan he
needs him for some legal matters involving bad news on a heart
transplant. When Alan asks Jeffrey if it can wait until he's finished
singing to his daughter, Jeffrey says, "The spider dies from
melanoma because of the sun. Sing it to her later."

Geiger and Dr. Dennis Hancock, the new staff physician, both have
patients waiting for a heart transplant; only one heart is available.
Geiger has promised his patient, Mike Fitzpatrick, that he is next
in line for the donor heart, but the Selection Committee has decided
to give the donor heart to Dr. Hancock's patient, Michael Brodeur,
an older man with a wife and two grown children who is closer to
death than Fitzgerald. Since Hancock isn't a cardiothoracic surgeon,
Geiger will have to perform the procedure, and inform his patient of
the Selection Committee's decision. It soon becomes apparent that
Mike has been waiting 2 years for a donor heart, and that this is the
third time he's lost out to another candidate. Mike's brother, Kevin, is
visibly shaken, asking Geiger, "Did you tell them he could be dead in
a month?" Geiger responds, "We remain hopeful that another donor
heart will become available."

Kevin confronts Dr. Phillip Watters demanding answers, claiming
that politics have entered into the Selection Committee's decision
based on who has the most money to donate to the hospital, but
Phillip puts him off. Kevin then approaches Dr. Danny Nyland,
demanding to see Geiger and becoming physically threatening,
when Dr. Billy Kronk comes into the picture and pulls Kevin away.
Upon learning that Geiger is in surgery, Kevin demands to know the
identity of the patient, but Nyland and Kronk won't reveal anything.
Kevin's anger, fear and frustration are growing visibly.

Kronk and Nyland are called away when a police officer is carried
into the trauma center over his partner's shoulder. As the wounded
officer is moved to a gurney, his gun falls from his holster, unnoticed
by anyone but Kevin, who picks it up and puts it inside his coat.
The policeman, with multiple gunshot wounds, is clearly hanging on
to his life by a thread.

Kevin goes to Alan Birch's office and pulls the gun on him, taking
him hostage and demanding safe passage to the OR where the
donor heart is being harvested. Muttering, "This is not respect,"
Alan leads Kevin out of his office, and, as the donor heart is
removed and placed on ice, walks with Kevin into the OR with the
gun pointed at his head. Kevin demands that the harvesting surgeon
pass the donor heart to Alan, and when Alan has it, they move on to
Geiger's OR where Alan informs the surgeons that Kevin has taken
the donor heart hostage and is insisting that they transplant the
donor heart into his brother.

Outside the OR, Phillip has called the police and a SWAT team has
arrived, but Kevin sees them through the windows of the OR. Geiger
tries to talk Kevin out of doing what he's doing, without success.
Kevin does release Alan, who runs out of the OR and tells Phillip
that if Kevin sees the police again, he'll start shooting and that Kevin
wants his brother Mike brought down and prepped for surgery. On
the phone, Mike tries to talk Kevin down from his rage, but Kevin
refuses to give in.

Back in his room, Mike Fitzgerald tells the police and Phillip that
his brother Kevin has some problems. He begs Phillip not to let
anything happen to his brother, saying that he might be all Kevin's
got, but Kevin is all he's got as well.

In the OR, Geiger keeps talking. "Shoot me. Go ahead, Kevin. Only
problem is I'm the only one in here that can do the transplant. That
gives me confidence." He tells Kevin that the other patient, Brodeur,
will die if the donor heart isn't transplanted soon, but Kevin has
obviously learned a lot about heart transplants in the 2 years his
brother has been waiting so he doesn't fall for the ruse. Out in the
hallway, Kronk is begging Phillip to let him go in, that he can take
Kevin out with one punch, but the police want one of the doctors in
the OR to maneuver Kevin into a corner so they can get a clear shot
at him. Phillip insists that it's too early to start shooting.

Geiger just won't stop talking, but when Hancock yells at him to
keep it to himself, Kevin loses his temper and orders everybody to
shut up, realizing that it's taking too long for his brother to be
brought down to the OR. Phillip finally gets Geiger on the phone
and tells him to maneuver Kevin into a corner but Geiger refuses
to take part in Kevin's death. Hancock announces that he's had
enough, tells Kevin to shut up, then gets on the phone and tells
Watters to get Kevin's brother down there immediately. Kevin shoots
the phone, severing outside communication.

Pulling Jeffrey aside, Hancock tells him that as fine as surgeon as
he is, they're on Hancock's turf now. Geiger is insulted, "Nobody
talks to me like that!" But Hancock isn't intimidated, saying, "Well,
it's time somebody did." Geiger responds, "Day one, you're sinking
fast." Hancock whispers, "My submarine; you do what I tell you."

Finally, Kevin's brother is brought down to the OR. Mike begs Kevin
not to do this, that he doesn't want to live this way, but Kevin tells
him that it's their only chance. When Hancock tells Geiger that
they're going to do the transplant on Mike Fitzpatrick, Jeffrey is
stunned. Just the same, they start prepping Fitzgerald. Hancock
tells Geiger to just keep going, then asks Kevin if he's sure this is
what he wants. Kevin tells him that he has to save him, that his
brother raised him, that his brother is all he's got. The surgeons
make the first incision.

Kevin, looking at his brother on the operating table, tells Mike that
everything is going to be okay, that "We're home free," even
though Mike is sedated. Hancock announces that it's time for the
transplant. When Kevin asks why they're waiting, Hancock tells
Kevin to step over to the table, then walks him over to Brodeur and
tells him that Brodeur isn't any rich benefactor, just a guy who is in
worse shape than Kevin's brother. Hancock forces Kevin to look at
Brodeur and tells him that if the doctors do what Kevin wants,
Brodeur will die, but that if Kevin will let them complete the
transplant on Brodeur, who has a wife and a son and a daughter who
will also suffer the consequences, Mike will live for another chance.
Hancock yells at Kevin that he's got the gun and the power, but
Kevin just wants his brother to live; it's obvious that Kevin has
become emotionally distraught beyond any possible rationality.
Hancock keeps pushing Kevin, telling him that he has the gun and
the power and that all he has to do is cock the gun and kill
Brodeur. Insisting that Kevin do something, Hancock nearly screams
at Kevin, "Make the call. Come on we've got 2 chests open. Make
the call! You've got the gun, make us kill him. Dammit make us kill
him." Kevin, looking at his brother and then the doctors, says,
"I love you so much, Michael. Good bye. My donor card's in my
wallet, in my back pocket." Kevin shoots himself in the head, dying
as he falls, to everyone's horror. Despite their shock the surgeons
know that Kevin's heart will be a match for his brother, and Geiger
orders that the heart be harvested.

The transplants go on. Geiger transplants the original donor heart
into Brodeur as Kevin's heart is being harvested by Drs. Hancock
and Kronk. Completing the transplant for Brodeur, Geiger begins the
process once again, transplanting Kevin's heart into his brother.

Dr. Aaron Shutt is called upon to operate on the wounded cop, with
Nyland assisting. They are removing the slugs from the officer's
body when one of them explodes in Nyland's hand, severing two of
his fingers. Aaron orders everyone out of the room except for one
other doctor to watch the monitors, but Camille insists on staying,
and Aaron finally relents. A member of the police bomb squad is
directed to scrub and get into the OR immediately. The slugs in the
cop's body turn out to be "devastator" bullets, which are designed to
explode upon impact but which will sometimes remain intact if they
hit soft tissue. The bomb squad cop orders flak helmets and chest
jackets for everyone in the room. Aaron continues to operate, but the
bomb squad officer has now told him that squeezing any slug or
dropping it could cause it to explode. When a bullet is found lodged
in a bone in the cop's back, Camille starts singing "Puff the Magic
Dragon" to Aaron, since his mother used to sing it to him and it
calms him, but Aaron asks her please not to sing right now. Still
trying to remove the lodged bullet, Aaron says that he's just going
to have to pull it out, which he does, then promptly drops on the
floor. The slug doesn't explode on impact with the floor immediately
-- only after everyone has caught their breath and calmed down.
There is one more bullet to remove, and it's close to the sternum,
when suddenly the cop goes into arrest. Aaron starts CPR even
though the bullet could explode from the pressure Aaron is putting
on the policeman's chest. Camille begs him to stop, saying that
there has to be a line somewhere, that they don't have to die just
for this one patient. Aaron tells her that he cannot let this cop die,
and finally gets a pulse, as well as the last bullet a few minutes
later. The rest of the operating team is called in to close and clean
up, as Aaron and Camille hug each other in relief.

Dr. Geri Infante has assured Nyland that she can reattach his
fingers, and Nyland insists on staying awake as she does so.
Telling Nyland that although she thinks he'll be able to use his
fingers again, Geri also says that there's only a 30-40% chance
that he will be ever be able to perform surgery. To help speed his
recovery, Geri wants to use leeches to suck the Venus blood
from Danny's fingers so that the stitches won't become swollen,
but he wants no part of it. When Danny at last agrees, Geri places
a leech on his finger, saying "Oh, come on baby, that's the way,
come on. Ooh, he was hungry." Geri, pleased with the leeches'
work, tells Danny that she doesn't know if he'll be a surgeon again,
but that he'll have the fingers. Finally, Dr. Ray Kadalski invades
Danny's room with a guitar, singing "High Hopes," as Danny,
lying helplessly in a hospital bed, desperately calls for help.

As Drs. Geiger and Hancock are standing in the hallway, exhausted,
Aaron comes by asking them about their day. Geiger tells him it was
the same old stuff as usual. Aaron concurs, asking Jeffrey if he can
buy him a beer. Jeffrey accepts, and invites Hancock, but he
declines and says that he has a patient. Jeffrey turns to Hancock
and tells him that he'd go down in a submarine with him any day,
and Hancock finally smiles.

Alan is singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to Alicia again, and gets caught
in the act by Phillip. Alan points out that Alicia will be able to leave
the hospital soon, and that getting a gun pointed at your head can
really be therapeutic -- to remind you of what's important. When
Alan asks Phillip if the spider in the song dies of cancer, and Phillip
says he doesn't think so, Alan tells Phillip that it's really
inappropriate for Jeffrey to say the spider gets cancer.

In the recovery room, Hancock tells Brodeur that there was a "minor
delay" in the transplant, but that everything went okay. Mike
Fitzgerald is laying in the next bay, devastated and alone, but alive.

Random Thoughts & Observations:

When Geiger and Hancock first meet in the hallway, Watters
introduces them to each other and informs Geiger that Hancock
has decided to work at Chicago Hope. All three doctors are aware
of the situation involving the donor heart, but Hancock seems to be
wholly unconcerned. Geiger chides him, suggesting that perhaps a
small shrug would at least be appropriate, but Hancock takes
offense, and tells Geiger that if he'll come by his office later, maybe
then he can see the shrug. Phillip to Geiger, "I timed that. It only
took 22 seconds for him to hate you." Geiger to Phillip, "That's not
a new record." Excellent! Our house was ROTFL.

At one point, Phillip has to inform Brodeur's family about the delay
and the fact that the donor heart has been taken hostage. As they
sit in the waiting area in disbelief, Phillip is interrupted by Alan,
who has the wounded policeman's family in tow. They naturally
ask if surgery has been stopped, but Phillip assures them that
surgery is still ongoing, although somewhat gingerly because of
the devastator bullets. Brodeur's wife interrupts with a question
about the gunman, confusing the cop's family. This was a priceless
moment and showed Hector Elizondo wearing his best "crisis mode"
face, then walking away seemingly unperturbed.

Alan's hosts a press conference since news of both the hostage
heart and the wounded cop have leaked to the media. One of his
first statements is, "I'm in charge" -- reminiscent of Alexander Haig's
press conference after President Reagan was shot -- followed by a
remark concerning Phillip's dealings with the "terrorist," Kevin.
Alan's attempts to remain calm are belied by his words and body
language. Peter MacNichol handled this brilliantly, conveying all
the feelings one might think Alan was experiencing at that moment.

Line of the week, from Alan Birch: "It was a very big gun."

Beverly Blackwell
Executive Producer
"The Chicago 5"

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