Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Transplant List

A method for thinking about how rich you are in relationships. I used this today with my freshman bio class, following a discussion of the ethics of organ transplant criteria:

I want you to think of a number of people for each of these questions, the number of people you'd put on the list, and then I want you to think about who they are and why they're there.
  1. The Blood List: This list contains everyone who you'd donate a pint of blood to, if they needed it. How many people could call you up and ask for a pint of blood, which costs you a pinprick, an hour of your time and a recoverable amount of blood?
  2. The Bone Marrow List: To get the bone marrow, the doctors are going to take a large needle and drive it through your pelvic bone, twenty five times on each side. You'll be sedated, but you'll no doubt be sore for a while. How big is this list? Shorter than the Blood List, to be sure. Who's dropped off?
  3. The Kidney List: A shorter list still. You don't really need two kidneys, but you're not going to get another one in this lifetime. How many people would cause you to jump in the car to get tested for a match? Most people are down to immediate family and dear friends at this point.
  4. The Heart List: You find out that this person needs a heart transplant, and you start scheming up ways to become brain dead so they can have yours. How many people are on this list? One? Two? In your whole life, is there anyone?

Whose lists are you on? Who would give up a piece of themselves to save your life? At the risk of sounding maudlin and cheap, go find someone on your list, or someone who has you on theirs, and do something kind for them today.

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