Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Reality" TV and urban legend

Anyone who watches FX network's ribald Nip/Tuck series knows that it is a highly realistic and medically responsible bastion of the truth, with poignant story lines that so closely mirror my own life I can hardly stand to watch. (And anyone who knows me can suss out the sarcasm.)

So I got a good giggle when Ingrid emailed me this from NYC:
"I was watching Nip/Tuck last night--my favorite, deliciously messed-up show of all time--and one of the characters was seduced in a bar and woke up to find that her kidney had been removed! Yikes. Seems there was a rogue group of organ thieves loose in Miami. Anyway, made me think about the horrendous underground organ trade and how very, very creepy it is. Kidneys, etc. worth thousands of dollars. Congratulations---now every time I see anything regarding organs, I think of you."


Kidney theft shows crack me up, and yes, I've seen several of them. Mind you, not a single incidence of it has ever been documented in the United States; it's pure "urban legend," most popularly believed to have begun with a falsified 1997 story at a Texas university.

In a related note, another moral pillar of TV drama light, Las Vegas, got selected for the Parents Television Council's prestigious "Worst TV Show of the Week" for its February 6 episode about a kidney theft.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The cutest little baby face!

Here she is, pink-skinned and smiling! One-year-old Kailey Simmons is recovering well in Toronto two weeks after receiving a life-saving liver from stranger-hero Mike, who wrote me yesterday with an update that he's doing well still, too. For the 40 percent of you who said you'd consider donating an organ for a stranger if you discovered you were a rare match, Mike and Kailey are out there as living proof of how good that gift feels.

Monday, September 25, 2006

On pope-blogging and liver-donating

I have a theory that Pope-related posts are far over-used by bloggers, so I apologize for the indiscretion of "pope-blogging" just before going on a posting hiatus. (And I hope dearly that I have just officially coined a new term, and that I might rejoice in someday seeing it added to the OED.)

I have much more personal updates to share, anyway. First, remember a few posts back, when I wrote about a young man in Canada who was donating for a young baby he didn't know, Kailey Simmons? The surgery was last week, and the donor wrote me to say that he and the little girl are doing well. I officially welcome him to Chopped Liver siblinghood! He's eagerly hoping to meet the girl and her family sometime soon. I'm following the story in the Canadian press, and as soon as someone writes with an update, I'll post a link.

Second, my thanks to those of you who've been asking about Joe. After a week into working again, he's feeling fine and going strong. Such a welcome reprieve after nearly seven months of frustrating recovery set-backs.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

This might make you mad

At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican has re-opened for debate its ruling on whether a brain-dead person is actually dead. (Currently, the Catholic Church's official position is that brain death is death, even if the heart is still beating.) A terrific Sept. 15 article in Catholic Online sums up why I care:

"The question is crucial since brain-dead people may be suitable organ donors. If a brain-dead person weren't really dead, then removal of vital organs for transplant would be synonymous to homicide."

This wasn't necessarily Pope Benedict's idea: His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had ruled that brain death equals death in 2000, but asked for the issue to be re-studied just before his own demise in 2005. Benny was just running with J.P.'s ball.

The Vatican academy, which held a summit last week involving 20 leading neurologists from all over the world, has recommended that the ruling not be changed. The final ruling must now come from the Pope. Red Prada shoes and pointy hat aside, he seems a reasonable man.

Meanwhile, a minority population of neurologists like L.A.-based neurologist Dr. Alan Shewmon continue to claim that brain death is nothing more than a pretty darn bad coma. Wearing my "all opinions welcome" hat, I should say that it's healthy to hear dissenting views on matters of such deep morality. Taking that hat off, I'm praying like mad that the Pope sticks with the majority.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Unfree at last! Unfree at last!

Joe is going back to work Monday, after just over a full year. Good luck, Joe!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Meanwhile, back at my old NMH stomping grounds...

Hey, everyone, I'm happy to introduce you to Samantha, the first Chopped Liver reader to write to me who will become a live donor at the same transplant center as me! In October, she and her dad will walk the same halls of Northwestern Memorial Hospital that Joe and I did, hop into the same ugly backless gowns and onto the same gurneys, maybe even get wheeled into the same lucky adjoining rooms, to undergo the same surgery Joe and I did exactly nine months previously. I'm sure they'll even have the same surgeons we did. (Samantha and I haven't dished yet about whether she's as smitten with the handsome Dr. K. as I am.)

Samantha's dad has cirrhosis caused by years of taking antibiotics to combat colitis. Live transplant is, at this point, his only option. With a few weeks yet to wait, if she's anything like me, Samantha could use some entertaining diversions to keep her mind off of the slowly moving turning of the earth, so if you've got a good joke or fun link (keep it clean, now -- Chopped Liver is a family site!) leave it in comments for her. (Don't forget, they won't show up until I approve them, due to comment spammers.)

I'll start:
Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear During Surgery:

10. Hey, if that's his spleen, then what's this I'm holding?
9. Could someone stop that red thing from beating? It's throwing off my concentration.
8. No one move... I think I just lost a contact lens.
7. Wait, this isn't a sex change operation?
6. Nurse, hand me that, um, uh, thingie.
5. Don't worry. I saw Dr. Kovach do this same operation on ER last week so I know how exactly how to do it.
4. And, that's the last stitch... hey, wait, where's my scalpel?
3. Someone call the janitor. We're going to need a mop.
2. "Accept this sacrifice, o Great Lord of Darkness!"
1. Nurse, more anesthesia please -- ahem, not for the patient, for me!

Welcome Samantha, and good luck these next few weeks to you and your dad. Say hi to Lori and the gang for me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Giving it up for a stranger

I'm in touch with a young man who has made the monumental decision to donate a portion of his liver to a young child who is a total stranger to him, after learning that he was the only one out of hundreds who was a match and a qualified healthy candidate.

Because the child's case has garnered much media attention, he's lying low until the surgery next week, and I'm respectfully keeping his identity anonymous -- but I want you all to know about him. Those of you who are prayers, go crazy for him. Those of you who throw good energy vibes, toss 'em up. And if you're him, well, know that I and your fellow Chopped Liver readers are wishing you the very best of luck and courage.

The idea of donating for strangers so inspired me that I decided it was time I learned how to add a readers' poll to this blog. So without further adieu, I usher in the debut of the Chopped Liver poll:
Update 9/17 -- the poll is closed but below are the results.

Would you donate a kidney or portion of your liver to a total stranger, if you learned you were a rare match?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Peace and comfort to the Barnes

Last week, my coworker Katrina called me to say that her wonderful friends Randy and Britt Barnes were in a severe motorcycle accident in Stillwater. While Britt survived in critical condition, Randy did not. The couple has two young children. There is simply nothing fair, just, or understandable about flash tragedies like this one, and my heart and prayers go out to everyone whose lives were touched by the accident. Especially to Britt and their girls. I find so much hope and love, however, in the blessing that Randy passed on to the world: He chose to donate all his organs, and doctors estimate that multiple lives will be saved this weekend thanks to his gift.

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