The speed with which manufacturers, ranging from world’s largest corporations to boutiques, have adapted their production lines to turn out medical equipment to fight the coronavirus, has surprised laymen like me even in this most surprising of years. London-based 58 Gin, faced with the tight restrictions on bars, is using its reserves of alcohol to make hand sanitizer. Sharp, the Japanese electronics giant, is producing test kits. The Britain’s Royal Mint, instead of coins and precious metals, plans to make two million visors for medical personnel.
It reminds me that the boy who got Nicholas’ heart witnessed an even more magical adaptation. He was 15-year old Andrea Mongiardo of Rome. One of his doctors, Professor Stefano Marianeschi, now head of pediatric cardiac surgery at Niguarda hospital in Milan wrote to me to say that before the transplant Andrea was “struggling to survive, grossly under-nourished, only 27 kilos (60 lbs.) of body-weight and twice a week had to be admitted for albumin and calcium infusions.”
After the transplant and a period of recuperation, he lived a more or less normal life for 23 years. In time, he got a job and even played soccer. He told everyone he used to have a patched-up old jalopy inside him. “Now,” he said, “I have a Ferrari.” When he finally died in 2017, it was because of respiratory failure brought on by cancer. Nicholas’ heart, Andrea’s Ferrari, worked faithfully to the very end.