One Organ of Admittance

March 27, 2006

Urban Legend

Randy Cohen's column yesterday took on two questions. One as dull as Dallas and the other a most troubling problem. Unlike Randy we don't waste your time with the nitpickeries of roommate solidarity. At AEthix Plexis only the tough ones make it through our selective screening process. You've read real bruisers about the question of evil, the question of abortion, and the question of dirty dishes. Not even Spring Break can hold us back, so throughout this week look for answers on fraud in cyberspace that could very well bring down the most valued media company in the world and personal charities that may or may not be handing out money to cover a trail of incrimanting blood that leads to a guarded Malibu mansion. Perhaps the inevitable debauchery of the coming days will offer Randy Cohen enough fresh and scantily-clad material to pull together more than one meaningful response next week. Here's hoping.

On to the only question that matters: Anonymous tells the story of his father who arranged for a foreign man to come into the country (we're assuming America here) to donate his kidney on the operating table in exachange for money to his father who would have died without it. He had been on donation lists but to no success and family members were "either unable or unwilling to donate."

First, let me say what jerks about the unwilling family members. Kidneys will only become more available as the causes of kidney disease and malfunction are relieved by advancing medicine and the supply remains the same. The likelihood of drawing a poor lot in the future is less than it is now. The odds are in the family members' favor and someone should have taken the gamble.


Randy doesn't even touch this but instead immediately places irredeemable guilt on the father. "[I]f you were unable to dissuade him or to donate yourself or to persuade other family members to do so, then there is little you can do now." He goes on to tell us about the inequalities of the black-market organ trade and the exploitation of the poor in poor countries, which is all very well and true but will never persuade a dieing person, with the means, from participating in unethical activities to delay death.

It takes some distance to realize that the environment in which the unethical decision was forced is a contingent one. Thankfully we have the option to pursue an environment of drastically increased kidney supplies and a vanished organ-trade. At the end of his response Randy suggests the father and son volunteer time with a kidney donor organization to atone for the father's sins. This doesn't go far enough. In fact the father could produce a net ethically positive result with some pressure and money put in the right places. He would be sinless like a mother stealing bread to feed her hungry children. The mother is not sinful upon the taking of the loaf and then redeemed upon her children feeding. The two events are inseparable and anon's father can approximate this link if he, now healthy, able, and enlightened, devotes his time and money where it counts.

Where it counts is in the environment. And by environment I don't mean the number of people on a donor list. I mean structural change. It is fairly certain that the ability to treat diseased kidneys will improve with time but the possibility of a near-limitless supply of ethically obtained kidneys is being stymied at the federal level. So the father, able to afford to fly in a foreign donor, pay his medical bills, pay for his kidney, and fly him out, can certainly donate a good chunk of money to University of California system researchers where the effort is seriously underway to pursue produced-in-the-lab human kidneys and other vital organs by way of stem cells.

Another option, if the father in fact finds himself strapped for cash and, if successful, would have a much greater impact than paying a month's wage of a Berkeley lab technician, would be to organize a very large book signing every first Tueday in November on even numbered years featuring Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the rock star authors of every Christian Fundamentalists favorite book series — the Left Behind series.

By surreptitiously turning back the clocks of every Christian Fundamentalist in Ohio 24 hours, anon and his father can make this happen and turn the spigot on again for stem-cell research at a national level so that in future kidneys may be bountiful.


One Response to “One Organ of Admittance”

  1. AEthix Plexis Says:

    i haven’t read this post but it sucks.

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