Don’t want to wear a helmet? Sign up as an organ donor.

Originally published on KevinMD

I walk out my front door today to do my obligatory walk around the block with my pups.

Two police cars with blue lights flashing, lead a caravan of over 100 motorcyclists to a funeral for one of their fallen brothers. They revved up their motors in the procession, I guess, as a sign of love, of brotherhood, of kindred spirits in the motorcycle world.

I choked up. I was ready to cry. It reminded me of that 23-year-old male I once had while I worked surgical-trauma ICU.

A young man riding his motorcycle with no helmet, no protection, flying freely down the highway. Superman. “I’m going to live forever.” Not a care in the world with angel dust (PCP) in his system. Feelings of freedom and forgetting any troubles.

No troubles — until it happened. He crossed the line. Killed an innocent man in a car — a deadly collision.

He came to us from the emergency department. He was paralyzed from the neck down and on the ventilator with chest tubes, fractures to legs, ribs, arms — eyes wide open. But he couldn’t blink. He couldn’t track, his pupils were irregular.

His poor mother called me every morning at 6 a.m. with a crackle in her voice.

A motherly voice of sad surrender.

“Is he any better?” she would ask.

And sadly, I would have to tell her no. He wasn’t better; he was worse.

Eventually, a conference was called with the intensive care trauma team physicians and the mother. We would withdraw life support.

And that was it.

Maybe he would have been saved had he not done drugs. Maybe he would have been saved if he had a helmet on.

Maybe.

An emergency department physician once gave us ED and ICU trauma nurses a seminar. I’ll never forget.

Don’t wear your helmet — then make sure you register as an organ donor.

In the U.S. 19 states do not require a motorcycle helmet.

Motorcycle helmets reduce the rate of head injuries by 69 percent and reduce the risk of death by 42 percent.

According to the CDC, close to 2000 lives were saved due to helmet wearing in 2016.

The blue lights passed by me. His buddies of over 100 in single file, revving their motors … and not one with a helmet.

Texting and driving: what happens every day in America

Originally published on KevinMD

Jenna had it all: She was smart, pretty, inquisitive and popular, with just one more year until she graduated from high school.

She was at the top of her class and couldn’t wait until high school was over, and she could become a pediatrician just like her dad. One day, Jenna would be an MD.

“One day at a time,” her parents always told her, even though she wanted to rush to the next stage of her life.

At the end of her senior year, the big day came: prom. Jenna had so many things to do, like get her hair done, pick a dress, and all of those things every girl going to the prom needs to do. The day before, Jenna had to put these things on the back burner since her mom cooked a mouthwatering meal for her and some important guests — her grandparents, only the sweetest and kindest people in the whole world, by the way.

Mom sent Jenna a text:

“Hey Jenna, where are you? U OK? It’s almost time for dinner. Grandma and grandpa are waiting.”

As Jenna drove home in a hurry, she knew not to look at her phone. But the text was from her mom, and Jenn knew she’d be safe as she traveled along the narrow winding road … maybe a little too fast.

She went to text back.

Forty-five minutes past since her mom texted Jenna who said she’d be home in 15 minutes. Jeff and Patty Davis now were concerned. Jeff Davis, MD, decided to look for his daughter.

He jumped into the car and took the usual route that Jenna would probably have taken home.

Instinctively, Dr. Jeff knew something was wrong. Jenna always followed through. She was always on time.

He traveled around that narrow road. What he saw left him breathless. There was a stabbing feeling in his heart as he saw ambulances, police, fire trucks and other people standing by watching. There were EMTs and paramedics standing over a crushed up body. And there was that cute yellow car Jenna got for her 17th birthday.

That car was wrapped around a tree on the opposite side of the road she was supposed to be driving on.

Jenna. His pride and joy. Pulseless, disfigured. Snapped at the neck. Lifeless.

The paramedic found Jenna’s cell phone on the floor of the car.

Jenna had texted her mom back:

“Mom CALM down. I’ll be home in 15 minu …”

This story is a composite of what happens every day in America.