Home > Beyond Just Us (Remington Medical #4)(7)

Beyond Just Us (Remington Medical #4)(7)
Author: Kimberly Kincaid

“Good to know you’re an M.D.”

Declan stood his ground. “I’m not wrong.”

But Tess had been doubted by far worse than a moody, broody Air Force veteran-turned-cover model, and she wasn’t afraid to wield a little attitude to prove it. “If that’s the case, then why even come here? Why not just wait out UNOS in California?”

“You wanted to know if I could help you,” Connor said after Declan’s pause.

“Aye.” His chin dropped, and Tess’s heart went along for the ride. “The doc at the VA said the meds will only do so much, and the list of people lookin’ for kidneys is long. She said it could take years. But at the rate I’m going…”

“You’ll be on dialysis by then,” Tess said, and Declan nodded in acknowledgment.

“Guess I figured I’d take the last chance I had.”

An idea welled in Tess’s mind. “I take it you don’t have any immediate relatives who might be a match.” Direct donation accounted for a decent percentage of kidney transplants.

Declan’s eyes flashed in the over-bright fluorescents overhead. “No. My mam’s gone. I never knew my da, and my sister is…no.” More pain filled his stare, to the point that not even Tess was willing to push. “I don’t have anyone”—he looked at Connor—“other than you.”

“I’ve got your back, brother.” Connor leaned forward in his chair, bracing his forearms over his scrubs-clad thighs and his forehead against his fingers, and Tess’s emotions sent a rare lump to her throat as he continued, “I’m sure you already know this, but there aren’t any ins with UNOS. Organ recipients are prioritized strictly by health conditions and match availability, so I can’t get anyone to move you up the list no matter how badly I want to.”

“I know,” Declan said. “I’m not lookin’ for special treatment or a second opinion. I know there’s no miracle cure. I just thought…”

“What about a clinical trial?”

The words bypassed Tess’s already questionable brain-to-mouth filter, halting the rest of Declan’s sentence and making Connor’s shoulders yank upward in surprise.

“Sorry?” Declan asked, and she looked at him, brows up.

“A clinical trial. No one at the VA brought that up as a possibility?” His WTF stare answered the question all on its own, so Tess didn’t pause. “Doctors and pharmaceutical companies need ways of testing new drugs and treatments before the FDA will approve them as standards of care, so they do clinical trials on qualifying patients.”

Declan thought about this for a second. “So I’d be a guinea pig.”

“The treatments are thoroughly researched before the trials are approved and funded,” Tess said, trying to keep her tone even. She wasn’t suggesting the equivalent of an eighth grade science project over here—she’d never suggest anything unsafe. “Over twenty thousand of them were registered last year alone.”

“Right.” Declan remained as unmoved as Everest. “So I would be a guinea pig.”

“You’d have to get that far,” Connor said, but he also didn’t say it was a shit idea. “There are a lot of steps involved. You’d have to find a trial you fit the criteria for, you’d have to qualify. Not to mention, you’d have to be selected, which can be difficult. Even then—”

“The treatment might not work,” Declan said, all but infusing the words with guinea pig.

“But it might,” Tess argued, her frustration threatening to flare. For fuck’s sake, she wouldn’t have put the idea out there if she didn’t think it was viable and safe.

Connor frowned. “There’s got to be a reason no one at the VA mentioned one, though.”

“They’re probably slammed.” She knew firsthand how high the need was for good medical care for veterans. The Army had paid for her degree, and even though she’d long since fulfilled her obligation in the Reserves, she remembered all too well how many veterans depended on the VA for even basic services. Something like this… “Finding the right clinical trial can take a buttload of time and energy, and if the doctors there felt like they already had a workable plan of care in place, they probably wouldn’t give a trial a second thought.”

A noise Tess couldn’t quite identify crossed Declan’s lips, caught in the no-man’s-land between a snort and a scoff. “Is buttload the technical term, then?”

Her cheeks blazed. “All I’m saying is that it can be a time-consuming process.”

“Or maybe the VA doesn’t support those…what did you call them? Clinical trials?”

“They do in some cases,” Connor said slowly. “To be honest, it might not hurt to at least look into it. Dr. Rosenthal might know of some places to start.”

Tess nodded, a plan building in her head, her pulse picking up along with it. “I have to call him for a consult, anyway. We’ll need to go over all the medical history carefully, and factor in today’s labs. Then, you and I can start looking for trials. There’s bound to be something we can at least take a swing at, or maybe even a handful of hopefuls.”

“I dunno,” Declan said, his tree-trunk arms folding over his chest and his scowl out in full force. “If whatever medicine I’d get in a trial would really make me better, don’t you think my doctor at the VA would’ve said something?”

Scorn wasn’t unfamiliar to Tess—hell, they were practically BFFs for how often her mother had paired them up like a china cup and saucer at high fucking tea. But something about the doubt on Declan’s face undid her in one hard snap.

“First of all, let me be clear. There’s no cure for diabetes. So whatever treatment you’d receive as part of a trial might make you feel better, and it definitely might buy you more time before you’d need dialysis or become gravely ill while you wait for a kidney, but nothing’s going to make your disease disappear. Not even that kidney.”

She continued, even though his eyes widened and Connor’s mouth opened on what was sure to be a protest, because the rest was too important not to get out.

“There are several reasons why your doctor at the VA might not have brought up a trial. I’m not sure what hers was, but let me tell you what I do know. You passed out in my arms, in front of my ED, which—for the time being, anyway—makes you my patient. I’m giving you a sound medical option with zero risk and zero obligation.”

Her voice lowered but didn’t soften as she placed her hands on her hips and asked, “Now, are you going to stop fighting me and start trusting me enough to let me help you, or not?”

 

 

4

 

 

Declan wasn’t a sucker for much, but a woman who didn’t stand for a single ounce of bullshit?

Yeah, Dr. Michaelson was flipping all his fucking switches right now. Despite the fact that she was pissing him off, too.

Because damn it all, she might be right.

Still, his defenses weren’t about to give that little gem any airtime, regardless of what his dick thought of her bourbon-brown eyes or that lush, smart mouth. So, in the end, it was Connor who broke the standoff.

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