Back to previous post: Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. One)

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Two)

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 27, 2006

Sign your organ donor card
Posted by Teresa at 04:03 PM *

Elise says that if you’re grieving over Mike and would like something constructive to do, sign your organ donor card. As she said, “One of the best medical things that ever happened to Mike was the kidney transplant he got in November of 2000.” She’s reprinted the piece she wrote about it at the time.

I’ll second her opinion. That transplant made an amazing difference in Mike’s life. Before, he was tied to a constant regimen of ambulatory peritoneal dialysis—and frankly, even with the dialysis he wasn’t doing too well.

Then a really prime donor kidney turned up that was an excellent tissue match for Mike. Sixteen hours later he was wheeled out of the recovery room. The new kidney started working within days. That transplant may have added years to Mike’s life. What’s inarguable is how much it improved the quality of the life he had. So sign your cards.

(I’ll always remember Mike explaining that when they put in a new kidney, they don’t take out the old one: “Now if I’m in the same room with Teresa Nielsen Hayden,* the count comes out even.”)

Comments on Sign your organ donor card:
#1 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 04:56 PM:

I've signed mine for years. It's the only thing that reconsiles me to death: that mine should bring life to someone else.

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:07 PM:

I did as well.

And, on a simpler level -- give blood. If you can. And consider giving platelets through pheresis. That automatically (unless you opt-out) puts you in the bone marrow registry, and if you win the lottery you might be called to save someone's life. I've never been called on marrow, but I did get called for a non-Hodgkins lymphoma patient for white blood cells. And the last time I donated, I was still CMV-negative, so they separated my platelets into 4 bags to use for neo-natal transplants.

Mostly, I never knew who I was hoping to save with my donations. It really doesn't matter. In the few cases where my donation was directed (the one where I had a match, and one which was sent towards Kate Wolf, cutting down the cost of her transfusions), I felt a little better.

Not everyone gets to donate these days (the restrictions on blood donors make Fatherland Security look positively tame). My grandmother didn't get to donate during WWII because she'd had malaria, and had the sense that the reason she wasn't allowed to donate was because it might be dangerous to her -- one of her letters said -"maybe it was para-malaria, rather like para-typhoid, and it would really be safe"-.

There's a lot each of us can do, and while we might not save a Mike, we can save someone.

#3 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Organ donor card signed long ago. Take what you can use, and burn the rest.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Also, LET YOUR RELATIVES KNOW you've signed one, and explain to them why.

Just to avoid any stupid complications.

* * *

A family friend has just gotten well enough to go BACK on DIY dialysis, and is finally On The List. Going kidneyless has been a miserable and limiting experience for her. I hope the wait is short.

#5 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:19 PM:

I just stole a quick peek at the back of my current license, thinking oh, well of course I've signed it, I always sign it--and lo and behold, I hadn't. So now I have. Thanks for the reminder.

New York State residents may also wish to check in with the state's Online Organ and Tissue Donor Registration. I've just done this as well, on a coworker's suggestion. Apparently doing so can get your intentions across even if for whatever reason your donor card isn't consulted, or can't be. Those of you living elsewhere might check to see if you've got a similar service available to you.

#6 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:23 PM:

i got my new canadian license about a month ago, & have had the donor application sitting in a drawer. i just filled it out.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Just try signing the organ donor statement on the back of a New York driver's license. The space is tiny, and the card is semi-impervious plastic. The process is not unlike enamelled engraving on metal.

#8 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:31 PM:

i'm blogging this, as well, but approximately forty seven thousand more people read you than me.

Donate Life America -- Donate Life -- Homepage

that seems to help you figure out what you have to do in each state. (united states only; sorry) yes, you can put it on your drivers license, but your next of kin still need to consent, apparently. from what i read of the minnesota signup, i am now signed up in some way that means they don't need to ask anyone else. i'll know more within ten days once i get my welcome packet, and will pass on the details.

#9 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:37 PM:

Having read the footnote, I gather they put your fused horseshoe-shaped kidney back in after they took that somewhat grisly mug shot of it?

[Yes, I'm a blood and organ donor already!]

#10 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:40 PM:

A few months ago I, rather belatedly, went to the DMV to get my address changed on my license and regristration (for both car and voting). I was surprised, and quite pleased that Illinois now has an organ donor program that is legally binding, and non time consuming. IIRC, all I had to do was say yes, and maybe provide a signature. It took longer for them to print out the new, updated driver's license.

It seems that it may also be done online or via phone.

https://www.ilsos.gov/organdonorregister

#11 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:52 PM:

I've never not been a donor, since the first time I got a driver's license.

And since I don't drink, smoke or do organ-damaging recreational drugs, my organs are largely in cherry condition. I'm in no rush to part with them, mind you, but whoever gets them should be happy to know they've been so gently used.

#12 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:01 PM:

I signed my donor card 13 years ago; it sits right behind my driver's license in my wallet. Unfortunately, I am no longer allowed to give blood (meds) but yeah, giving blood is good.

And for those of you who are looking for other things to do, look for Mike's books in your local used bookstores, buy them, and give them to people. If you find one in really good condition, ask your local library if they would like it. I went to my county library computerized card catalogue and discovered, to my surprise, that none of my three local branches have copies of The Dragon Waiting. I'm going to see if I can't supply them...

#13 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Oh, so that's what the heart on the front of my driver's license means?

Well, darn. And here I thought it meant I had a secret admirer at the DMV.

#14 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:13 PM:

And think good thoughts about stem cell research.

Number three on my wish list of things to go away when the stem cell research hits is stride is repopulating the Islets of Hamm's Lager, or whatever they're called. Cure diabetes and whole legions of other conditions go away.

((Maybe going a bit a field here, but if you have a big healthy dog, ask your vet if there's a canine blood donation program in your area. My dog donated her eighth unit last week. The vet passed on thanks from an owner whose BBQ-skewered labrador was saved with the help of one of Kira's bags of mutt-squeezings.))

#15 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Australians can register here.

#16 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:16 PM:

I've signed mine, but can they use organs from people who can't donate blood? Corneas maybe?
In the meantime, I donate hair. It's something...

#17 ::: Christian Griffen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:22 PM:

What Beth said.

#18 ::: Chuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:24 PM:

Here in Canada (or at least BC) it's not on your driver's license. The BC Transplant Society is here, the Quebec one is here, and the Ontario Ministry of Health's page about it is here. Hope that's not too many links.

My daughter got a new kidney almost 5 years ago now (when she was four and a half), and the difference it made was just enormous (not to mentioning getting her off the 12 hours a night dialysis). Anyone who signs up, you have my thanks, and you will have an almost unimagineable level of gratitude from any recipient and their loved ones.

(I didn't know John M. Ford personally other than as a poster on the Pyramid forums, but even just his signatures there were worth more than the cost of subscription...)

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:29 PM:

If you can't donate any other way, find out if your local medical school (assuming you have one in your area) has a pre-arranged donation program for bodies. (My father did that with his, and his corneas were donated to someone.)

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:42 PM:

Gay men who have been sexually active since 1977 can't give blood (because the CDC is a political organization). Can we be organ donors? Anybody know?

When I die, I want my femurs and humeruses (humeri?) made into flutes and given to my friends. I'm pretty sure I can't get that done. Also a lot of my organs aren't exactly in the best condition. That said, however, I would be an organ donor if I could. I just don't know if I'm allowed.

#21 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:49 PM:

As of July 1st California modified their driver license and ID renewal forms to be compatible with the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Now, instead of having to sign a separate form and applying a donor sticker to your ID, you can check a single box on your renewal form and you'll receive a California driver's license with an indelible indication of your donor status. You can also sign up as a donor or update your donor profile online.

#22 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Would that I could. Hepatitis at age 18; no blood donation, no organ donation :-( Now that the finances are more or less in shape, it's time to get back to making cash donations as the next best thing.

#23 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Oh I should, I should. And I will, I guess.

I've always felt a huge emotional resistance to doing this before, and I eventually decided it's because making plans for what happens after your death means coming out of denial and admitting the fact of mortality. No need to tell me that's a foolish attitude - I know that perfectly well,

#24 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Eep — I'm another one who's been carrying around an unsigned card. Fixed now.

Also, for Californians: http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org/

#25 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:08 PM:

I just went to see if I could find a link to the North Carolina DMV procedures for noting on your driver's license that you wish to be an organ donor. (I am one, and it is marked on my license accordingly, but wanted to share with anyone else who might be reading.)

The NC DMV site simply linked here: organdonor.gov

Which seems to be a useful site full of information for everyone.

Although, cynically, I'm surprised that this hasn't been wiped from the Myth vs. Fact section of organdonor.gov:

Myth: People can recover from brain death.

Fact: People can recover from comas, but not brain death. Coma and brain death are not the same. Brain death is final.

Speaking of which -- you should also put it in your Advance Health Directive.....

#26 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Andrew's link to the NY Online Organ and Tissue Donor Registration in #5 just seems to point back into this comments thread. I suspect it was meant to go to http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/donor/agreement.htm or possibly http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/donor/index.htm

Walt

#27 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:22 PM:
I've signed mine, but can they use organs from people who can't donate blood? Corneas maybe?
Beats me, but it seems to me one might as well sign whatever is necessary to be a donor anyway. If when the time comes nothing is usable, you haven't hurt anything.

I believe corneas are easier to use than internal organs, but I won't swear to it (I recently had a cornea transplant, as it happens, but I didn't go into the donation and matching procedures in detail).

#28 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:30 PM:

Casey, you do have a secret admirer--they admire your generosity.

And yes, if you really can't be an organ donor for medical reasons, donating your body for medical research or education is also a good deed. [I'm guessing that anyone who has religious objections to organ donation would have similar objections to those other forms of recycling.]

#29 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:51 PM:

If you're concerned about your mortality in terms of donating your body -- when I was in massage school, we had a cadaver anatomy class where we got to look at real human bodies. I feel a great deal of respect for those who donated.

None of the bodies was under 80 years old. One was 96.

From the evidence I've seen personally, being willing to donate one's body is a strong contributor to longevity!

#30 ::: Stuart ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:56 PM:

I donate blood every 8 weeks. I was truly hooked on donating blood the day I was called in to donate for a neonate who was going to undergo open heart surgery.

Those of us who are diabetic can also contribute by caring for ourselves so well that we don't ever need that kidney transplant. That will leave the limited supply of kidneys to the most needy.

#31 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 07:57 PM:

You don't even have to donate your body to aid in medical research. Ask your family to request an autopsy; they can have the body back afterwards. Even if it tells them nothing special, it's important to the training of future physicians and for future genetic research. Read about it here.

#32 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:03 PM:

(morbid)
One could also lobby against mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. The supply of healthy young organs for transplant drops when helmet laws go into place.
(/morbid)

I worked in CHF for a while; heart transplants are among the greatest medical miracles. The results are just astounding. But we were lucky to get a dozen a year, with dozens of people on the waiting list. Many of them die waiting for transplant.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:09 PM:

I'll certainly be donating whatever they can use of my carcase to whoever can use it. This is a good idea.

#34 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:10 PM:

I have periodic recurring hepatitus, dating back to infancy. I've been told that this prevents me from donating blood - does it prevent me from signing an organ donation card?

#35 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:13 PM:

Steve Taylor @23, re admitting mortality:

What's life insurance if not admitting mortality?

When I last renewed my Hawai'i drivers license I checked the box and made sure my family knew my wishes about organ donation. 35 years of beer drinking may have damaged my liver, but the past six of not drinking at all may have helped it recover some.

#36 ::: Kieran ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:23 PM:

I study this stuff in my non-blogging spare time ... Just to echo what several people have said, it's very important to talk explicitly to your next-of-kin about your wishes. Next-of-kin effectively have a veto in cadaveric donation, signed donor card or not.

#37 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:25 PM:

No health condition that I know of can prevent you from signing an organ donor card, in the general sense of "signing" (some conditions which are not necessarily relevant make physical signing not an option -- quadriplegia springs to mind).

Many conditions may prevent your organs from being used. That's not your problem. The conditions that might create difficulties, and the tests for them, will have changed by the time it matters. Even if that's less than a month from now. Give them all, and let the survivors sort it out.

Just for an example -- at this point, acute renal or liver failure is a lot harder to manage than long-term HIV. Give someone an extra 10 years with a kidney or liver, and it's kinda dog-in-the-manger to say they shouldn't have it just because you had sex with a man. Particularly since they do serious screening to determine whether there's any known infection attached to the organ they're transplanting (yes, there are false positives and false negatives -- they still test).

#38 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Tom, bless you for mentioning platelet, white cell and marrow donations! I've donated all three, as well as whole blood and plasma, and received blood as well. Back in 1971 my brother developed aplastic anemia and then a type of leukemia they didn't even have a name for. The NIH did an experimental marrow transplant from me, then white cell and platelet transfusions. For a while it seemed to be working, but then he was still receiving weekly transfusions when he received a hepatitis-infected transfusion. In three days he was gone. In those days they didn't have tests for hepatitis in donated blood, or if they did, they didn't test routinely. The blood donor probably didn't even know he was infected. One thing I remember was when the hospital put out a public appeal on the radio for AB+ donors for a leukemia patient (people assumed he was a little kid, but he was actually 18) and how astonished they were to get over 250 responses from the Washington DC area, even though only 6 of them ended up being compatible. Folks, give blood if they'll let you.

At Worldcon in 1976, Robert Heinlein recruited me for the National Rare Blood Club. I stayed on their registry and other registries until I was "deferred" from blood donation because of medical conditions and meds. I'm proud of the gallons of blood I donated over the years and grateful to the donors of the blood I received back in 91. When it comes time to harvest my organs, the medical conditions won't matter. My license says Organ Donor in big red letters.

Xopher, even with my brother's experience, I think the restrictions on gay male blood donors are crap. Not necessarily as politically motivated as you think, but certainly overly restrictive. I think boils down to money -- the more "problematic" donors they can screen out without testing, the less testing needs to be done on the donated blood.

Do you think I could have a harp made out of my bones? They'll have to use someone else's hair for the harp strings, though ...

#39 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:49 PM:

Even if you may not be able to donate organs or blood for various health reasons, you might be able to donate your body to a specific program who may be studying your particular health problem. My father's body, when he goes, will be donated to a particular university because he has some uniquely fused vertebrae and other spinal issues, and should not be able to walk, let alone live to the age that he has. Several folks at this university have taken a look at x-rays of his spine and other of his medical records, and have expressed an interest in examining him after his death. (Which will hopefully still be a long way off.)

In any case, there's probably some way you can assist.

#40 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:09 PM:

Thanks for that thought. Maybe the very autoimmune conditions that make me unable to donate would be interesting to study!

#41 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:47 PM:

I really like the idea of donating my body to science!! I suspect my corneas and heart will be no damn good to anyone but ASAIK the kidneys are good. Anything they can't use they can give to the medical students to train on, and when it's all finished, plant me someplace to nourish the earth. Can they use skin? Can they use lungs? Too bad they haven't figured out how to transplant a working pancreas...

#42 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:01 PM:

No organ donor card for me, thanks anyhow.. It's not just that most of my organs are almost entirely worn-out, but there was that bout of mixed hepatitis a few decades back. Didn't even quite make the Five Gallons of Blood Club. *sigh* Medical School, for dissection, sounds like a good idea, though, assuming that they haven't all gone over to Computer Simulations.

#43 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:05 PM:

Xopher (#20): Humeri. Also femora.

Adding to the general chorus...

Consider signing up for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program; this is especially important if you are non-white, as immigrants tend to register in lower numbers than the national average.

Also, even if you think you can't donate blood, it's worth checking in periodically to see if the rules have been updated. I couldn't donate for a long time because I had hepatitis A as a child; I randomly walked into a blood donor clinic once and asked after it - it turned out they changed the rules, and I've been able to donate ever since. (Well, except for after the tattoos. And when I had a cold. And all the times my iron was too low. I've tried to donate many more times than I've actually succeeded.)

#44 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:09 PM:

Tom, #29, I hope that rule works. I've agreed that my body will go to Johns Hopkins. I don't have anything donatable, even skin, but I expect they'll enjoy having a look at all the things wrong with me.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:20 PM:

Hey, for all I know there's someone out there who's plumbed for a horseshoe kidney, but lost theirs to hepatitis or some other infection. I fantasize about the phone call: "You're not going to believe this, but we got a donor horseshoe kidney that matches yours..."

(And no, Niall, that's not mine. That's an exceptionally tidy, symmetrical, well-formed, and fresh horseshoe kidney that makes its living posing for medical reference illustrations.)

#46 ::: simbelmyne ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:23 PM:

If you feel that the American Red Cross has too many restrictions on their donation process, please consider other places. I know Virginia has Virginia Blood Services, although they may be harder to find than the ARC. Other states or regions may have other equivalent companies.

Also, if you are in the Greater DC Metro area, please consider donating to the NIH Blood Bank. They are one of the few hospitals in the nation that collects over 80% of their donor blood in-house (ie, not shipped in from the ARC), they deal with some strange stuff, and have a great need. They will also do phenotyping on your blood to see if you qualify for the National Rare Donor Registry. I'd been donating to the ARC for a year or so before I came to work at NIH and never knew I was a Rare until I donated to the Blood Bank here. Now I get an extra spiffy red card to carry with my donor card.

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:24 PM:

[I'm guessing that anyone who has religious objections to organ donation would have similar objections to those other forms of recycling.]

Judy Harrow once told me how she told her very Orthodox Jewish grandfather that she was an organ donor. She pointed out that in Judaism it is not only permitted but required to break a law to save a life. He was completely OK with her choice once she explained it in those terms; but that wouldn't apply, except very indirectly, to non-transplant uses.

Speaking of "recycling" though, one of the things I plan to do after becoming an organ donor is get a recycle symbol tattooed over my heart. It will be my first and probably only tattoo; I wanted one that meant something important to me.

I need to get around to this, and soon.

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:26 PM:

simbelmyne, the restriction on gay men donating blood does not come from the Red Cross. It's a CDC rule, and everyone who collects blood in the US has to follow it.

#49 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:36 PM:

You could have your organs put in canopic jars to accompany you to the afterlife, but I hear Celestial Nile security's gotten ridiculous. If your vitals are going to go to waste poured out into a bin with everyone else's, you might as well just give them away to somebody who can use them.

#50 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:41 PM:

Susan @ 32: (morbid) One could also lobby against mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. The supply of healthy young organs for transplant drops when helmet laws go into place. (/morbid)

It's pretty much restraint, respect for our hosts and the spirit in which they started this thread that keeps me from writing my inital reaction to your comment. Let's just say that it's a four letter word followed by a three letter pronoun.

I am an avid motorcyclist. I always wear a helmet and can't imagine ever riding without one. I encourage others to do so as well, and whenever anyone asks me about motorcycling, I encourage them to go take a state certified rider course.

Even if you offered your comment in jest, I think that it devalues the lives of motorcyclists. On the same note, why not oppose laws that require seat belts or car seats for kids? It's the same basic idea, only it's easier to think of kids or careless automobile drivers as worthwhile members of society than those scary motorcylists.

PS - Yes, I am registered as an organ donor. Please don't aim for me in your car.

#51 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:49 PM:

Sign your donor card even if you're not sure if you can qualify. It's amazing just how much of you is recyclable. I work as a forensic photographer (I take pictures of autopsies) and recently helped with the autopsy of a 12 year old accident victim. Even though it was several hours after his death that he was found, LOPA was still able to harvest his long bones. (Those have to be taken within 24 hours of last known alive-time.)

For anyone on the fence about it, just know that the harvest teams are incredibly respectful and do absolutely everything in their power to keep the decedent's body in presentable condition. When they harvested the 12 year old's long bones, they replaced them with PVC pipe so that the legs would look normal.

#52 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:10 PM:

I work with neurologists, and they mostly work on rodents because human brains are nearly impossible to come by. I remember tales of experiments taking years while waiting for enough brain to be passed out to them... It's like cosmologists waiting for time on one of the big telescopes.

Apparently the place to donate your brain is the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, which doles them out to researchers across the US. Healthy "control" brains are needed, so even if there's nothing particularly interesting about your brain it would still be a blessing to some researcher.

#53 ::: Steven Gould ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Laura and I have been donors for a long time, but recently, before going into B.C., Canada for a trip, I took the girls down to get their State ID cards so we would have picture ID as well as their Birth Certificates when we went across the border. They were asked and said, "Sure, we'd donate our organs." As they are 13 and 11, I had to counter sign, but there it is.

Waste not, want not.

#54 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:00 AM:

And critical in all this is not just signing the card, but talking to your family/next of kin/whoever is going to be dealing with the doctors and getting them to understand and agree to uphold your requests. A single family objection can derail your best intentions.

In my family, we had this discussion when I was fifteen, and again in my twenties, and now, having dealt with it more directly again this summer, we're planning to sit down and talk about it again. I'm pretty sure we're on the same page (harvest all you can, burn us to cinders, hide cinders in bottom cupboard for heirs to deal with, that kind of thing). But you know, it's a good idea to make sure everything is still the same, as decades pass.

#55 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Because I've donated at different places in different times, I really have no idea if I've hit the 5 gallon mark or not. I know I'm well above 2, because I did that in one place. I've got huge veins in my arms -- they're always glad to see me come in, because I'm so easy to "hit". I joke about them being sewer pipes.

It's not fun, but it is easy. And I've seen several movies I'd never have seen otherwise doing pheresis (they set me down, put needles in both arms, and I lie there for around an hour, unable to use either arm, so reading is not an option -- there's an alternative method that takes a little longer that pushes the blood in and out through the same arm). After the first few quarts, giving blood became both boring and quietly exhilarating for me. I also joke that the most money I've ever earned for someone else in an hour was the matched white-cell donation for the lymphoma person mentioned above -- the donation I made, in about an hour, retailed for $400 at the time.

If you can't, you can't. If you can, think about it. It's much easier than organ donation. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, I fear, so I'll stop after one more comment. Any donation may save a life. Not all will. But if the blood isn't there, the life won't be either.

#56 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:52 AM:

Regarding donating one's body to science: you need to specify which program at which teaching hospital, you need to make sure they know you've put this in your will, and you need to confirm that they actually want your body (if they don't, they may be able to refer you to someone else who does). Furthermore, you need to keep them up to date on your physical condition, because chronic illness may render your cadaver useless to them. The last thing your next of kin will want to have to deal with, a couple days after you've died, is a plaintive call from the morgue saying "what do we do with this body? The med school refused it."

#57 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Xopher and anyone else who might be interested in geeking about how the Jewish legal framework deals with organ donation: the Halachic Organ Donor Society. The main sticky issue is a slightly different definition of death from the standard modern medical one; one law you can't break even to save a life is the law against murder. And organs are most useful if you can harvest them from someone who is only arguably dead.

A cousin of mine, Raphael Marcus, an Orthodox Jew himself, pioneered a surgical procedure for major operations without requiring blood donation. That meant he could operate on Jehovah's Witnesses without violating their prohibition against blood transfusions.

#58 ::: Allen J. Baum ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:56 AM:

Alas - while I'd be quite happy to be a blood donor, I'm not allowed. It's not because of any medical condition, nor the fact that I've been to malarial zones, but because I lived in England for more than allowable time.

Evidently, England is crawling with mad cow disease, and since they can't test for it, they can't use your blood.

I have signed my organ donor card (*just now* - it was filled out, but not signed. Typical of me. Thanks all for the reminders)

#59 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:19 AM:

I used to give blood regularly - being AB+, I was sought-after - but then I developed an unexplained case of anemia. (If you are a medical professional, you are now required by law to say "but men don't get anemia.") Hefty doses of iron cured the anemia, but my hematologist advised me not to donate blood any more. I haven't looked into platelet or other forms of donation, to see if they would be OK - probably I should.

#60 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:28 AM:

#50 ::: Larry Brennan wrote about:
Susan @ 32: (morbid) One could also lobby against mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. The supply of healthy young organs for transplant drops when helmet laws go into place. (/morbid)

It's pretty much restraint, respect for our hosts and the spirit in which they started this thread that keeps me from writing my inital reaction to your comment. Let's just say that it's a four letter word followed by a three letter pronoun.

I am an avid motorcyclist. I always wear a helmet and can't imagine ever riding without one. I encourage others to do so as well, and whenever anyone asks me about motorcycling, I encourage them to go take a state certified rider course.

I agree with you completely, but was far too flummoxed by the sheer thoughtless insensitivity of Susan's comment to get as far as describing my first reaction as the 4:3 word combination (although it's word for word what I said ;)).

Not only am I an avid motorcyclist, who couldn't imagine not wearing a helmet and good gear - I've also taught the new rider course.

You'd think that folks here would know that sweeping generalizations are (at best) inaccurate, and only in the hands of a masterful writer, funny.

#61 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:17 AM:

Have the organ donor thingy on the driver's license, check. Next of kin (big sister) knows and approves, check.

Now I'm going to whine about my current inability to donate blood. I was a regular donor for about 4 years, up to a year ago. About 3 years ago, during presurgical tests (hysterectomy, benign tumors, no transfusion needed, only interrupted my donations for a couple months), I was diagnosed with a blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. That's a fancy way of saying that I have a low platelet count for no apparent reason. I was treated for a couple of weeks prior to surgery and a week or so after. The hematologist I saw told me that I had a mild case that he wouldn't bother to treat at all except for the surgery.

So after I had the followup visit with the surgeon, verified that there was no cancer and I hadn't had a transfusion, I called the Red Cross to see if I was still an acceptable donor. They said yes, I went in as soon as I could, gave blood about every 2 months for about 2 years. Every time I told them about the ITP; every time they checked their guidelines, asked some further questions, and OK'd me.

Then I developed an allergy to their iodine-based skin antiseptic. No big deal, just a nickel-sized dry red itchy patch of skin. A few days of minor irritation. They weren't taking chances, though, and put me on deferment.

A few weeks ago, I got a letter. They now have an alternate disinfectant, and I should be able to give blood again. Woohoo! So I traipse on down to the last Tuesday of the month blood drive, all eager to start donating again. We start into the screening, hit the any-other-blood-disorder question, and I fess up to the ITP. And the guidelines have changed just a bit, and despite having given blood for 2 years with this condition known, now I can't.

Well, OK, I wouldn't have been a great platelet source. Still bummed out though.

#62 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:21 AM:

For anyone in Alaska, the donor registry is here.

As someone who has had to deal with this situation, make sure all your wishes are specifically outlined in your Advance Health Directive, no generalities.

Talk to the people who might have to make the decision when you can't:
Spouse/Significant Other
Children
Other family
Caregivers
Medical Provider
The person that has your medical power of attorney

Another good thing about pheresis - the last time the spouse and I were donating blood, the phlebotomist said that the needles used for regular donations are larger than the pheresis needles.

#63 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:27 AM:

Xopher@20:
"When I die, I want my femurs and humeruses (humeri?) made into flutes and given to my friends."

Xopher, when my wife had an ankle fusion several months ago, one of the procedures done was to use a length of fibia bone as a dowel to tie together foot, ankle and leg bones. The piece of fibia came from a cadaver bone bank, and it was there and available because some person had donated their body. So, yeh, bones can be donated and used.

And, Lizzy L@41, yes, skin can be donated (it's used for burn victims). When Hilde's mother died several years ago, her corneas and skin were among the particulars taken for use. (She was 84, and had lung cancer, so I don't think any of Edna's major organs were accepted for transplant.)

I've had "Organ Donor" marked on my own drivers license ever since the option was offered, and donate blood regularly. (As I've noted before, it's one of the few good habits I just can't seem to break.)

Hilde can't donate blood, due to the expresso-strength meds in her system (a transfusion from her would probably put most people IN the Emergency Room), but she donates hair to the Locks For Love program about every 18 months, and plans to leave her body to a medical teaching university.

#64 ::: Dorothy Rothschild ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:14 AM:

Allen @58 - same here; I lived in England in 1995-96, just when Mad Cows began sending their horrific mooooos across the moors, so I can never donate in the states (not that I could before that, because I didn't weigh enough). Now I live in the UK, and I more than weigh enough, so I've been donating on a regular basis (once I got over the nearly-fainting thing from the first try). Though 8 days in India killed that for an entire year.

Surely Susan @32 was being ironic??

#65 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:37 AM:

I've had the donor card for a while, but I went and signed up on that California online registry too. My next appointment to donate blood is next Tuesday; I've been donating regularly since a little while after 9/11.

Katie and I were once sitting in a BART station and there was a billboard about organ donation. She said, "I'd be offended if my organs would be useful and weren't used." I replied, "No you wouldn't -- you'd be dead." She gave me that adorable look she gets which carries the message, "Stop being so nerdy," (I give her much occasion for this look) and said, "Okay, I'm offended now at the concept."

#66 ::: Omega ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 05:23 AM:

Allen #58 said

"Alas - while I'd be quite happy to be a blood donor, I'm not allowed. It's not because of any medical condition, nor the fact that I've been to malarial zones, but because I lived in England for more than allowable time.

Evidently, England is crawling with mad cow disease, and since they can't test for it, they can't use your blood."

Well I'm a blood doner of 20 years standing (minus a few bits out for having teeth pulled and 2 kids)
and the lates rules for donation this side of the pond include a month long wait if you've been to the US between May 1st to November 30th because of West Nile Virus.

Here's the link to the Donor health check for the National Blood Service for anyone interested.

http://www.blood.co.uk/pages/c11xclud.html

I'm also registered as an organ doner since 1984 and on the British Bone Marrow Registry.

Wether any of it is usable or just too pickled is a problem for the doctors.

#67 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:06 AM:

UK organ donor registry here:
http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/how_to_become_a_donor/how_to_become_a_donor.jsp

Carried a donor card since I was 18, through three different countries so far. Signed up for the UK bone marrow registry, and the UK organ donor registry. Have the pink dot on my Californian driving licence, although I haven't signed the card because it needs to be witnessed and I never remember about it when I've actually got someone handy. Thank you for the link to the online Californian registry -- it will be used when I get home.

I don't know whether I can donate organs in the US, because of the BSE restrictions (I had to turn down Stanford blood bank when they were phoning local residents recently in a desperate attempt to stop the bank running dry). But I'm signed up anyway -- if nothing else, they can ship some organs between countries, and there may be someone in the UK who can use bits I have no further use for.

#68 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:13 AM:

#30: I agree that those of us with diabetes should work as hard as we can towards avoiding complications that could lead to the need for organs, that said sometimes this disease doesn't care how great your control is..it can be sneaky. I did decide that it would be churlish of me to not fully embrace the advice that JMF so kindly gave me and in doing so prolong my own life and give my kids a chance to not lose me when they are so young.

Finally, as someone who will in all likelihood need to have her liver replaced in the future (still holding it's own right now!)I am always humbled by the thought that one day someoneelses sorrow might bring me more time with my own loved ones. It's a big responsibility and the days I get snippy and self-indulgent I bitch-slap myself and remember that I may not have asked for the genetic sweepstakes I got, but I can work hard to avoid making things worse and to honor the hard work and sacrifice that has gone into the technology that has enabled me to get to 45.

Oh and one more finally, thank you to all who registered for bone marrow donation. As the parent of one Asian and one Southeast Asian child (with hemoglobinopathy), know that their are relatively few folks with the right genetic backround signed up, it's even smaller for mixed race folks, every new person on the registry is a potential match down the road. My daughter is only 11, but has asked to go on the registry as soon as they'll take her because of another adopted child who waited so long for a match.

#69 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:40 AM:

Linkmeister @35 wrote:

> What's life insurance if not admitting mortality?

Oh that too - though at least I have life insurance!

I'm not saying my feelings are rational - they're delusions to be overcome.

#70 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 09:21 AM:

Organ donation: yes.

(Kidney disease runs in my dad's side of the family; my mother's brother died waiting for a heart-lung transplant leaving behind a widow and infant.)

On a blood donation tangent: if the nice people with needles have trouble getting a vein because of scar tissue from past donations, is there anything useful to be done? (The previously-used veins are the only good ones available. Trust me.)

#71 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Zack Weinberg @56:

The school my father donated himself to said that as long as you weren't in a car accident, it wasn't a problem (I suspect there are more restrictions than that, but we didn't need to ask). Ask, yes. Make sure the paperwork is complete, make sure the next-of-kin knows, make sure the hospital you're in knows (if you can).

#72 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:56 AM:

I've had Donor designation on my drivers' licenses in three different states, for **mumble** years. If the universe tends to conserve matter and energy, why shouldn't I?

Tom Whitmore: I've been doing apheresis for almost a few years (straight blood donation for years before that) but never get the sort of information you get from your donor center. I'm going to have to ask more questions next time. And yeah, I have veins only a phlebotomist could love--and they do. My father, during his years as an EMT, used to run his thumb over the veins in my elbow and mutter about starting IVs...

#73 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:08 AM:

I signed up as a donar ages ago but just double checked and my Maryland driver's license still says "donor yes." No idea if I have any useful body parts but I figure someone who knows more than I do than figure that out.

I gave blood for years (22 to be precise), lots of it to a local hospital that saved the lives of two of my kids (severe asthma attacks) and myself (lost four pints of blood when I miscarried fifteen years ago) but can't donate anymore because of various ridiculous health problems and medication for same.

I've been blessed by the generosity of others as I've had ten pints of fresh frozen plasma transfused at various times over the last few years and am very grateful to whoever was kind enough to give.

My oldest son is now giving blood so at least as a family we're still contributing to society.

I had power of attorney when my grandmother died and we were able to follow her wishes and donate her corneas. Giving doesn't just help the person who gets the organs, it made us feel better also, knowing she gave two last gifts to the world. (I know that sounds sappy but still, it's true so I'll let it stand.)

#74 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:28 AM:

I am an organ donor, but thanks for the reminder about giving blood more often, bone marrow donation, and platelets. I try to give blood as often as I can as I am Type O, but I've been slacking and I need to stop IMMEDIATELY.

I fear for the person who gets my corneas. "Why do I keep weeping at dog commercials? Who was this wuss that gave me corneas?"

#75 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:50 AM:

I've been an organ donor since that was an option on the DC driver's license, and I'm up for my 99th blood donation (including apheresis; but my veins are no longer up to that trick).

My first blood donation was in 1959, if I remember correctly; part of a twice-a-year blood drive at Harvard. Later that year, my grandmother needed 40 pints of blood after resection of her transverse colon, and every drop was free because I had donated one lousy pint to the Massachusetts Red Cross.

I've been a faithful donor ever since.

#76 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:02 PM:

I used to donate, being O negative -- I've given back enough to replace what what was given me after childbirth -- but I need to start up again if I'm not too anemic. Thanks for the reminder!

#77 ::: Diana ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:21 PM:

When my mother died, we tried to donate her body, but because she had died of cancer the hospital said they could use only her corneas. (Since she was extremely near-sighted, we joked that the only thing they wanted was the one organ that didn't work.)
By all means donate, but what they really need are healthy young people killed in car crashs

#78 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:33 PM:

Blood donor since 1974, signed organ donor card in 1978.

What Beth said.

I also added the "sign an organ donor card" note to Dead People Server next to Mike's entry. It was extremely thoughtful of Elise to suggest signing an owner donor card as Mike's memorial gift.

#79 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Before I starting taking all kinds of pills that make the blood bank nervous, I was a regular. Being AB+, my blood type is uncommon (.03 of the population in the US), but not rare, and can only readily be transfused to other AB+ types. They seemed happy to get it anyway . . .

#80 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Lizzy L. was mentioning the "whole body option" up above (I think it was Lizzy). This is how I'm going. I refuse to let anyone stick what will be a perfectly good cadaver in the ground to get all icky and useless. Medical students definitely need stuff to work with, and there are *never* enough cadavers available, *anywhere*.

Everything inside me that is of any possible use to anyone will be removed and sent where it's needed, and afterwards, the rest will be soaked in the necessary preservatives and ung up on a hook in a nice plastic bag in the nearest available medical school. (What, I should pay to ship it *home?* Silly idea.)

Maybe it's the nurse in me, but I find it cheerful to think that the physical bit will continue to be useful after I'm done with it. That's what I am, I guess: a member of the Church of Utilitarianism.
:)

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:01 PM:

I guess I would want mine cremated when all the useful bits are gone. Most Wiccans prefer cremation, because it's the method of body disposal with the least environmental impact. For one thing, if I'm informed correctly it's not considered necessary to pump the body full of poison before putting it in the fire, as it is before putting it in the ground.

Also I find ash-scattering a meaningful and moving ritual, much more than burial.

If I could be buried naked in a shallow grave, in fetal position, on top of a hill, with an acorn in my mouth so that an oak would grow from my grave, that would be wonderful, but not legal anywhere in the US that I know of. Open pyres are legal in Texas if they're at least five miles from the nearest dwelling, but I live in New Jersey, where passing such a law would mean nothing (since there is no such place in the entire state).

#82 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Madeleine at 72: I like to chat with the folks at the blood bank, and I listen. "CMV negative" -- I know from CMV as it's one of the opportunistic infections that hits people with HIV. "Quad bag neonate" -- I infer, break this up into 4 bits for babies with problems. This isn't stuff they're really telling me -- they're telling each other, and I've got enough info to understand it. They have to tell each other so they get it right; I'm just overhearing.

#83 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:05 PM:

I'm AB+ also - we seem to have more than our statistical share in this thread.

#84 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Kate @ #70:
On a blood donation tangent: if the nice people with needles have trouble getting a vein because of scar tissue from past donations, is there anything useful to be done? (The previously-used veins are the only good ones available. Trust me.)

Nonmedical opinions: first, wait a while before trying again - two or three years. I had a problem with scarred veins when I was selling my body to science regularly. Even the highly-skilled research nurses couldn't get a needle in me after awhile. But after a few years break, the problem went away. I don't know if the scar tissue thins with time, but I was able to resume successfully. Second, another trick from the nice biostudies people: drink huge amounts of water for 48 hours beforehand. Double or triple your daily intake. Your veins get bigger and easier to stick. This is nice even if you don't have the scarring; my veins are deep, tend to roll, and have valves in the most inconvenient places, so I've had way too many experiences with a technician wiggling a needle back and forth trying to get it properly seated. Bloating myself with water does seem to improve their success rate.

#85 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:33 PM:

Done and done. Technically I shouldn't donate blood. You're prohibited if you were in England at all between certain years because of the Mad Cow thing, and despite the fact that I am a strict vegetarian I am technically not allowed to donate at all. Ever.

I lie on the forms. Maybe it's not the right thing to do, but I don't see why that should prohibit me from potentially saving someone's life.

Also, technically, you're permanently prohibited from donating blood if you've ever had any sexual contact with anyone who has ever had sexual contact with a male who ever had sexual contact with another male. So, if you've had sexual contact with anyone who may have have contact with a gay/bi male. Right. If you trace these things far enough, shouldn't most people be ineligible? Bah. Also, if you've ever been to Africa. Ever. Stupid.

#86 ::: bonnie-ann black ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:34 PM:

i didn't know Mike Ford, but from what i've read, he sounds like a heck of a guy. i have about a dozen organ donor, skin graft donor and blood donor cards in my wallet. i'm with Madeleine and others: let every bit of me get used up. i want my carcass to go to the Body Farm in tennessee.

i was a regular blood/platlet donor for a few years, then they (NY Blood Center) changed their rules. turns out, those few months i spent studying at oxford university, and the theatre tour i took of ireland a few years later have made me ineligible to donate blood or platlets. i always feel like such a slacker when the blood drives are held.

#87 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:40 PM:

A note about Illinois: While, as Kieran (#36) and Ayse (#54) mentioned, it is wise to make sure your next of kin know that you intend to make your organs available, Illinois now has a donor-registry with first-person consent. I just (finally!) registered. Now they can use whatever of me is useful, even if my next-of-kin can't be reached or doesn't remember that it's what I want. (I was a donor on the old registry too - you have to re-register to have the first person consent be effective.)

#88 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:45 PM:

Georgianna @ #83: I'm AB+ also - we seem to have more than our statistical share in this thread.

That's an interesting statistical anomaly-- kinda reminds me of blood-type quasi-astrology: "According to Nomi's theory, those with type A blood tend to be reserved, punctual, and law-abiding, while type Os tend to be more outgoing, passionate, and individualistic. Type Bs are said to be carefree and cheerful, while ABs are said to be serious and solitary by nature."

No, I'm not another AB+, and for that matter I haven't been allowed to donate blood for years because the local blood bank's hepatitis antigen tests give an unusual number of false positives. Although they're aware of the false-positive issue, they won't cancel them off my record even if I bring in negative antigen results from my own doctor, and if I try to donate again and *another* false positive pops up, the local blood bank will get me blacklisted for life. Possibly things would be different if there was more of a demand for my nearly plain-vanilla A+.

#89 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Xopher: re entry #81 -- there is a Pagan cemetary somewhere in the Pacific Northwest that does 'natural' burials.

I think it was mentioned in Starhawk's book on Pagan funerals...(whose title I'm blanking on at the moment).

I'll look it up when I get home tonight.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:10 PM:

Lori at 89: It's The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and it's mostly M. Macha Nightmare's book. Starhawk has a bigger name, so it sold better with her name listed as primary author. I have it; it's where I got the information about open pyres being legal in Texas.

I should read it again. Thanks for reminding me of it!

#91 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Susan @ #84: Thanks. I already told the Red Cross not to call me for six months after the last time I tried to donate platelets, so we'll see if that was enough time or not. I do drink very much beforehand, and I know that makes a difference, because when I was sick a couple of weeks ago, I was dehydrated and my veins got "wiggly"--I got some really spectacular bruises out of the ERs' attempts to start IVs.

#92 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Larry @ #50:
I am an avid motorcyclist. I always wear a helmet and can't imagine ever riding without one. I encourage others to do so as well, and whenever anyone asks me about motorcycling, I encourage them to go take a state certified rider course.

Even if you offered your comment in jest, I think that it devalues the lives of motorcyclists. On the same note, why not oppose laws that require seat belts or car seats for kids? It's the same basic idea, only it's easier to think of kids or careless automobile drivers as worthwhile members of society than those scary motorcylists.

Well, let's look at these fascinating assumptions.

1. I'm one of those scary motorcyclists too, albeit only as a passenger, and less so of late since my friend sold his bike. I'm not sure whether I'm a worthwhile member of society or not, for reasons that have nothing to do with my riding habits. One of my scary motorcyclist friends (much scarier than me) was killed while riding a few months ago. I'm sure it would have given her spouses comfort to have been able to donate her organs; alas, the nature of the accident left her organs in no shape for it. And yes, she was wearing a helmet.

2. I have never ridden without a helmet even at my most suicidal (or maybe that should be especially at my most suicidal) and never plan to. Nor would I ride anywhere except perhaps in a parade with anyone who didn't wear a helmet. I also wear a seat belt in my car even to move the car three feet up my driveway and insist that my passengers do the same.

3. Despite my personal choices, I remain opposed to helmet laws and seat belt laws for adults for the same reason I am opposed to drug laws: I think adults have the right to make these decisions for themselves. Even if I consider them stupid decisions (and rest assured that I consider riding without a helmet stupid.) If someone thinks that feeling the wind riffling through their hair is worth risking their life for, that's their call to make and their evaluation of their life's worth, not mine.

I live in a state where helmets are mandatory under the age of (I think) 18, but not for adults, and my choice to wear a full helmet seems - from what I see on the road - to be mildly unusual.

4. I'm not opposed to car seat laws because children shouldn't have to pay for adult stupidity, or to helmet/seat belt laws for teenagers because the average teenager (my younger self included) has stunningly bad risk-assessment skills and lacks the experience to make informed decisions about these matters. I'm not convinced that raising the driving age to 21 would be such a bad idea, either.

5. One side effect of the decrease in automotive casualties from seat belt and helmet laws is a decreased supply of healthy young organs for transplant. The part about lobbying against the laws was in jest (though you must be aware that there are a substantial number of bikers who do lobby against them), but if you think this is not a topic of discussion in the transplant community, you're sadly naive.

I have some faith that science will solve the organ-growing problem in my lifetime, but until then, I'm perfectly happy to take advantage of people being stupid enough to ignore safety precautions or sadly unlucky enough to die despite them. I'd be okay with organ donation becoming an opt-out rather than an opt-in program.

PS - Yes, I am registered as an organ donor. Please don't aim for me in your car.

Alas, I am unable to return your earlier sentiments, being sadly afflicted by standards.

While we're cataloguing our virtues, I've been a regular blood donor (of boring old A+ blood) since I was young enough that I had to have parental permission. (My parents raised me to think of blood donation as an exciting adults-only activity that I could do only when I was grown up enough.) I've no idea how many gallons I've given overall. I joined the marrow registry recently. I did the organ donor checkbox as soon as it appeared on my license; I don't honestly remember when that was. And my next-of-kin is aware that I want my body autopsied and/or donated. I keep trying pheresis and keep getting deferred for low hematocrit (which also sometimes gets me deferred for regular donations); they're going to schedule another try this fall, in preparation for which I will go out and purchase lots of red meat and perhaps some Geritol.

#93 ::: David Finberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Alan, I'd check again. I was barred for spending 6 months in europe, but they recently relaxed it so I started donating again. The UK requirements are more strict still, so you may just be out of luck.

#94 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:31 PM:

Susan - Congratulations on your standards. I hope they work out for you.

Since you seem to be somewhat involved with motorcycling, I'm even more stunned at your intial comment, especially considering the loss you describe above.

As far as the transplant community goes, despair can cause people to make (sometimes forgivable) faulty moral judgements.

#95 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:33 PM:

xeger @ #60:
I agree with you completely, but was far too flummoxed by the sheer thoughtless insensitivity of Susan's comment to get as far as describing my first reaction as the 4:3 word combination (although it's word for word what I said ;)).

See my response to Larry above, particularly the line beginning with "alas".

You'd think that folks here would know that sweeping generalizations are (at best) inaccurate, and only in the hands of a masterful writer, funny.

Whereas ill-informed assumptions are of course both accurate and a real giggle. I get it now. (What sweeping generalization is xeger talking about here, I wonder?)

#96 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:45 PM:

#95 ::: Susan requested that I examine her comment:
Alas, I am unable to return your earlier sentiments, being sadly afflicted by standards.

Does that mean that you'd be able to hit Larry in a car if it had an automatic transmission?

More seriously, I'm afraid that I have trouble understanding how somebody can advocate organ donation to prolong life on one hand, and on the other hand suggest that it would be a good thing to kill off enough people of a certain type to make it easier to get organs. It's a scant step off from the sort of "We're morally|physically|ethnically superior, so it's okay for us to do this to them" justifications that have led to so much sorrow over the years.

#97 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:56 PM:

As far as the transplant community goes, despair can cause people to make (sometimes forgivable) faulty moral judgements.

I think that I am just not going to be able to find enough common language to communicate with anyone who feels that discussing the side effects of safety laws is an example of "faulty moral judgment", so I'm bowing out of this conversation.

Feel free to have the last word if you like.

#98 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 02:59 PM:

Both of my parents donated their bodies to the University of Iowa medical school. They sent Mama's ashes back not long ago, about a year and a half after she died. Last I heard she was residing on the buffet at my sister and her wife's place in Cedar Rapids, waiting til we get Daddy back.

I decided that cremation was the way to go after reading Paul Barber's "Vampires, Burial, and Death". Decomposition is gross, and cremation and scattering recycles you pretty well. As a Catholic, I'm allowed to be cremated, but then am supposed to be interred in sacred ground. My feeling, though, is that God made the whole shebang, so what's not sacred?

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:04 PM:

Anne Sheller @ 98
Last I heard she was residing on the buffet

I understand that Bill Rotsler hasn't missed a LASFS meeting since shortly after he died - his ashes are there. (A somewhat more literal version of Standing Rule #0 than usual.)

#100 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:09 PM:

xeger #96:
#95 ::: Susan requested that I examine her comment:
Alas, I am unable to return your earlier sentiments, being sadly afflicted by standards.

Does that mean that you'd be able to hit Larry in a car if it had an automatic transmission?

Um, no. Think about it some more.

More seriously, I'm afraid that I have trouble understanding how somebody can advocate organ donation to prolong life on one hand, and on the other hand suggest that it would be a good thing to kill off enough people of a certain type to make it easier to get organs. It's a scant step off from the sort of "We're morally|physically|ethnically superior, so it's okay for us to do this to them" justifications that have led to so much sorrow over the years.

I'd have trouble understanding that too, but I don't see anyone here suggesting killing anyone, of a certain type or otherwise.

If you think that libertarian opposition to helmet/seat belt/drug laws is morally equivalent to murder, I'd be happy to have a philosophical discussion about it if you can manage to keep from making personal insults, but maybe we should relocate to an open thread to do so.

#101 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:15 PM:

Susan - Perhaps we're talking past each other.

In my view, it's immoral to wish for someone else to die in order to get their organs. It seems as if that's what you're asserting is discussed in the transplant community, especially with regard to motorcyclists.

I'm also saying that it's wrong to promote or not promote safety measures to different communities. It's a reflection of their perceived value as members of society. Kids - valuable. Distracted soccer moms - valuable. Motorcyclists - only valuable for their organs so we might as well accelerate the donation timeline.

(Right now, I wish "view all by" was working.)

#102 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Larry, I'm reading it as more like 'if you're not going to wear a helmet, even when it isn't required, then ...'.

#103 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:43 PM:

PJ - Perhaps that's the right reading. But all you have to do is look at case after case where a driver who kills a motorcyclist (even in documented road-rage, negligence or impairment situations) faced a ligher penalty than the guy who grabbed a dog out of a womans car and threw it into traffic. (All of these things happened in Northern CA between roughly 2002-4, just don't have the time to dig out the citations from SFGATE.)

Plus you routinely hear doctors use the word "donorcycle". To them, the organs are clearly more important than the life that was lost.

I really don't think that the glimpse Susan gave us into the transplant community was "Alas, let's make the most of this tragedy." but rather "Let's let the stupid be more stupid so we can get what we need. They're less valuable than we are, anyway."

As I said, I think that anyone who can be an organ donor should be. I am. That doesn't mean that I'm ready to start parting with my bits and pieces before I'm through with them.

FWIW, I give blood frequently - after all, I can make more.

#104 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:00 PM:

I really don't think that the glimpse Susan gave us into the transplant community was "Alas, let's make the most of this tragedy." but rather "Let's let the stupid be more stupid so we can get what we need. They're less valuable than we are, anyway."

No, what Susan was saying was "Some people are going to be stupid even if there are laws, and there are documentable consequences to that stupidity. Also, they have the right to be stupid and we shouldn't bother making laws trying to force them to be smart."

#105 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:02 PM:

There are cases when I'd part with some of my bits and pieces before I'm through with them. When there's two copies, and it's someone I love. I'm probably freer with that second criterion than many, or than I should be.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:10 PM:

I read Susan's comment as ironic dark humor. I feel certain that it was meant that way.

Also, it connects to Jim's comment that EMS slang for "helmetless motorcycle rider" is "organ donor."

Larry, I didn't know those things had happened, and I'm appalled by them. In that context I might have overreacted to Susan's initial post as well.

#107 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 04:54 PM:

Plus you routinely hear doctors use the word "donorcycle". To them, the organs are clearly more important than the life that was lost.

Larry, there was a time in my life when I worked in hospitals, with lots of doctors, EMTs, etc. I never heard the term "donorcycle," but I will assume it's appeared since that time. However, I don't think you should assume that they believe the organs are worth more than the life lost. It's just that (it was true in my time, and I suspect it's true now) EMTs and ER docs and nurses see a shitload of motorcycle accidents, with horrific injuries, and sometimes the only way to deal with the pretty constant parade of bodies is with dark humor. You should hear what they say about drunk drivers.

#108 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 05:16 PM:

I used to work for a large HMO and had a lot of dealings with doctors. Any time they used the term "donorcycle", it sounded to my ears like it was coming from a sense of frustration and anger that people refuse to wear helmets even though wearing helmets might save their lives, not from a wish that the motorcyclists would hurry up and die already.

Doctors have bleak, morbid senses of humor. Emergency Department doctors have especially bleak, morbid senses of humor. When they've seen the same illnesses and injuries again and again, and when they believe that many or most of them could be avoided, I think they hit the "I have to laugh or I'm going to cry" stage and stay there.

#109 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 05:42 PM:

Must make an appointment to give blood in the next week. I'm good at it, and O+. Clean blood too, as far as I know, and since the current theory is that my grandmother died of AIDS blood from a transfusion-- I'll put in as much as I can. I don't lie on the survey, though it would be so much easier. My malaria deferral ended two years ago!

My blood-drive tips, though they come from college drives:
Drink water and eat, but not so much water that you have to run out mid-donation process.
If you're iffy on the vein-finding, tell the nurses politely that you have a maximum number of stabs. If they're like the ones at my school's drives, they'll send the most experienced nurse because they know they have only one shot.
Eat the cookies.
Bring something to cover up with-- short sleeves and a cardigan or something, so you can have one arm bare and the rest well-bundled. Blood drive rooms are always chilly.
I'm always chatty with the nurses. If you're talking about the weather, it's easier to mention that your hand is cold and purple and perhaps they can let up the cuff a bit. And you get a better idea of what's going on and why.
Have the nurses pick which arm to use. My arms alternate good vein days.
Watch yourself the rest of the day. I used to bounce up from giving blood, cheerful and happy because I never ended up lightheaded. And my hematocrits were so low! I'd have thought I'd be green and woozy. Then I had a higher hematocrit, and around three hours after giving blood... oh, the dizzy. I've gone from blood drive to karate practice without a hitch, had low hematocrits, and I can never tell if I'm going to wobble.


#110 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 06:22 PM:

BTW, thank you to all the blood donors out there. You might've saved my life.

#111 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 06:26 PM:

#20 Xopher When I die, I want my femurs and humeruses (humeri?) made into flutes and given to my friends. I'm pretty sure I can't get that done.
Yes, that would be melodic, but it is my understanding there are all sorts of rules and they vary from state to state.

I always wanted my organs that can be donated to be taken out (skin is largely needed I've heard) and then let medical students learn from me with dissection. THEN take all my bones and make a skeleton and put it in a junior high classroom so I can continue teaching even in death. (Or I can haunt the descendents of all the kids who bothered me when I was teaching.) A nice plan I thought, but I was told that this was not possible due to U.S. laws, shuckey-darn.

My driverís license is signed. (Mike asked me if I had when last I saw him and I was proud to show him that it was so.) I canít donate blood but I nag others to do so. Iím considering volunteering for the Red Cross as soon as I get out of some of my other commitments. They can use all sorts of volunteers I hear.

#112 ::: Anton P. Nym ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 06:32 PM:

I've been a signatory on my organ donor since I first got my driver's license. Take what can save lives first; take what can teach next; use the rest for cat-food for all I'll care at that point.

And the next-of-kin are fully aware of my wishes as a donor, too. Strongly encourage folks to take that step, as others have suggested, to avoid unnecessary tangles should the need arise.

-- Steve

#113 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 06:36 PM:

(Or I can haunt the descendents of all the kids who bothered me when I was teaching.) A nice plan I thought, but I was told that this was not possible due to U.S. laws, shuckey-darn.

Ah, yes. Section 42 of the US Paranormal act of 1912 says, and I quote, "The haunting of public property, including, but not limited to public schools, public libraries, and fire departments, shall by punishable by a fine of not more than 20,000 dollars, payable by the offender's heirs, and containment, within a suitably licensed containment grid, for not more than half a millenium, for first offenders."

#114 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:01 PM:

Others have said what needs to be said, so let me merely reiterate. Sign your organ donor card. Tell your next-of-kin. Donate blood, platelets, white cells (he says despite not having donated blood in a long, long time).

#115 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:11 AM:

PJ @71: The school my father donated himself to said that as long as you weren't in a car accident, it wasn't a problem (I suspect there are more restrictions than that, but we didn't need to ask).

I don't know all of the details, but my grandfather tried to donate his body to a medical school, and when he died (of chronic heart disease with complications out the wazoo) the med school did in fact refuse the donation. I imagine some places are pickier than others.

#116 ::: Kim ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:03 AM:

I still feel a little too much like signing my donor card is asking to have some cell-phone-wielding motorist splatter me across Townsend St., unfortunately. I'm not sure where the superstitious streak comes from, but I do trust my parents to do the right thing if that motorist gets me despite the lack of documentation (yes, we've discussed it).

I've had very bad experiences with giving blood in recent years that have made me reluctant to go back. My second attempt at platelet donation was such a Hat Trick of Suck it's not even fair to describe it, but even the whole blood donation appointments seem to end up in inattentiveness-related unpleasantness. I don't know if Stanford is just secretly the Wrong Place To Go, or if I somehow have the magic power of choosing the wrong times, or what.

#117 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:28 AM:

Kim - Stanford is the wrong place to go. I had a couple of bad experiences there myself. On one occasion, the rather inexperienced phlebotomist left me with bloody wounds on my left arm. Grr. Boo Stanford.

Better to find a Blood Centers of the Pacific donation site. I don't know where you live, but I used to go to the one just ouside Mills Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame.

#118 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:27 AM:

I'd like to donate blood, and I have in the past, but I won't be for the next six months, at best.

Last February, I spent three days in Beth Israel, Boston, with unexplained severe anemia (hematocrit of 21 or so). Two pints of Boston's finest RBCs were what sprung me from the hospital and sent me back home to Seattle. Not to mention the morning after the transfusion I woke up feeling GOOD for the first time in months, maybe years. I had energy; the sun looked warm; I wasn't surrounded by a cold fog. I could think!

The anemia's still unexplained, but I'm to be responding to treatment (steaks and lots of them - oh, yeah and iron supplements and an umbrella) and am now merely every-day run-of-the-mill anemic. My hematologist is hopeful that I will be back to normal sometime next summer or so.

Anyway, I wrote this so those of you who are donating or planning to do so know that even if your blood isn't going for heroic 18 hour surgeries, or new born infants, or really extreme things, it will still really make a difference to someone. It certainly did to me.

So here's a very large, fat, happy Thank You to all of you donors out there. You have made my life immensely better.

#119 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 05:21 AM:

#20 Xopher When I die, I want my femurs and humeruses (humeri?) made into flutes and given to my friends.

Xopher, no offence, but that sort of makes me glad I'm not one of your friends. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Mantelpiece? ("I don't think you ever met Christopher...") Back of the wardrobe? Executive desk toy? Jam sessions down at the Jazz Cafe?

"In this world, Mr Gurgeh, one has a choice. One can be a player or one can be... played on."

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 11:41 AM:

ajay #119: Obviously, Xopher wants the flute played. In that way he becomes a member of whatever band, group, or orchestra it is played in. That doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.

#121 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Didn't a famous British actor have his skull star as Yorick in Stratford (London?) after his death? Within the past few years, this was, and my google-fu isn't working.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:28 PM:

ajay 119: That's OK. I have more than four friends, so I can leave them to people who will be able to deal with the concept, and play the flutes. I may have trouble finding four, even if my friends are numerous! But suffice to say I won't visit my bone flutes on anyone who would be disgusted or horrified by the concept.

And what do you mean you're not one of my friends? :'-(

#123 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:28 PM:

ABs are said to be serious and solitary by nature... Well, sorta kinda true of this married woman with a fondness for satire. Alas, I can't donate though -- not with the pills I have to take.

#124 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Xopher - For some reason, the idea of a human bone flute presses my squick button. The things that do that are pretty random. Blood and gore, while unpleasant don't make me cringe - but a friend of mine had his ponytail cut off and kept the hair. Ewwww!

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Larry - that's OK, we all have our different squicks. I have so many that I can't ever go to a horror movie, or a standard-issue comedy (if there's a difference).

When Lee Hayes died, he left instructions for his ashes to be plowed into his vegetable garden. As my friend Judy Harrow remarked, "It would take either a very conscious or a very unconscious person to eat those vegetables."

By the same token, by the time I die I hope that I know someone who is a) very conscious, b) not squicked by the concept (since being squicked does not indicate lack of consciousness), and c) a flute player!

#126 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Nancy C :: Allegedly, Del Close donated his skull to the Goodman Theatre "for use in Hamlet productions on the condition that he should receive credit in the program as Yorick." The Chicago Tribune looked into it two months ago and determined that the skull was mostly likely not Close's.

#127 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Xopher - sort of on the topic of you donating things, some people think you already are. A couple months ago I had to go the ER because I had a bad reaction to some dental work. Then I had to go back because the narcotic they gave me made me amazingly sick. After a little bit of hemming and hawing, because they'd already given me some stuff that wasn't working, the doctor announced that he was going to inject me with some zofran.

My oldest son, Chris, aka Kit Funtastic, looked up from his book and said, "They're going to inject you with some Xopher? Neat!"

I told him I thought the world would be a better place if we were all injected with a little gay wiccan/pagan. It would certainly put a stop to some of the stupid campaigns to change our state constitution.

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:30 PM:

Georgiana, thanks for that. It gave a little brightness to an otherwise bleak day!

I will refrain from the obvious joke about injecting, gay me, my boyfriend etc. It's in poor taste, and everyone here can guess what it would have been.

#129 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Well, Xopher, I do work in bone. I'm currently turning a lamb leg bone into a little bitty 4-note fipple flute (based on some Viking-era finds). On the other hand, I'd feel funny working in human bone, especially someone I knew (even only online).

#130 ::: Kim ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Larry, thanks. I live in the city but I play hockey on the peninsula; I'll give Burlingame a try.

It sounds like you and I have had an experience in common at Stanford (it's not the worst moment I've had there, but it was the most messy). Not cool.

#131 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Anne, I'm not planning on dying soon! I don't even have the documents done (I know, I know). Before the bones would be in your hands, I'd have to get all the legal stuff straightened out, and all like that...and I'd make sure you were comfortable with the idea before I named you as the instrument-maker.

Besides...I hope it will be years and years from now!

#132 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Dan Guy,

Yeah, I saw all that about Del Close when I googled, but I thought I saw something else in USA Today a few years ago, about something in England.

#133 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Xopher: RE: being buried with an acorn in your mouth...

google "Green Burial", they talked about it last week on NPR while I was driving home.

You'll get lots of good links, the movement started in the UK, and has spread here.

#134 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 06:42 PM:

I told him I thought the world would be a better place if we were all injected with a little gay wiccan/pagan.

Gee, I thought Xopher was of average height or maybe a little taller...

#135 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 09:19 PM:

#120 ::: Fragano Ledgister commented:
ajay #119: Obviously, Xopher wants the flute played. In that way he becomes a member of whatever band, group, or orchestra it is played in. That doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.

I'm afraid I had to reread this several times, and remind myself that we -are- talking about a -bone- flute. I suppose it goes well with injecting Xopher :)

#136 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 09:20 PM:

Lexica, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're (insert whichever dimensions one desires)"

So I'm 6'4", 225, with a full head of hair. ;)

#137 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Hmm...I guess one issue about a human-bone flute is that is pretty hard to follow universal precautions. People tend to forget that bone is highly vascularized (read: bloody).

Anne Sheller, how do you prepare bone for bone flutes? I prep my bone samples by washing with Tris buffer and defatting with a 2:1 chloroform-methanol solution. Do you do anything further to get the bone sterile or at least really, really clean? In a world of plastic, I really like the coolness and density of bone, and have definitely thought about making some kind of memento mori with some of my leftover tissue.

#138 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 10:41 PM:

Xopher at 125, at the risk of creeping everyone out: when my father died, my mother insisted that his ashes be er, planted in the garden of their house. When the house was sold (she moved to an assisted living facility) my brother and I dug the ashes up and put them in my garden, near a dwarf Japanese maple tree. My mother has instructed me that when she dies, her ashes are to be mingled with his.

If and when I sell the house -- not for a long while, I hope, if ever -- I plan to take a pinch of the mingled ashes with me to wherever I go.

The maple is nearly taller than I am. But then, my dad was 6' 4"...

#139 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2006, 11:36 PM:

debcha, the bone I have worked with has all been food-grade animal bone, mostly from Kroger's. The beef bone has been mostly marked as soup bone, the lamb came in a cut of meat - lamb shank iirc. On the occasions when I had a complete long bone to deal with, the first step was to remove one or both ends with a small hacksaw, then punch out most of the cancellous bone at the open end or ends with a gouge. These were washed with detergent and hot water like any kitchen implement used on raw meat. The bone or bones then went into a pot of hot water to cook for a while, at a simmer. I'd fish them out with tongs when the marrow shrank enough that I could scoop it out, usually dumping out the water and starting a fresh pot while the bones cooled enough that I could handle them. I lay some old newspaper down on the kitchen table and scrape the bone inside and out with a table knife. On occasion I have scooped the marrow into a clean dish and finished cooking it later, or frozen it and put it out for the birds in winter.

It takes several cycles of simmering and scraping to get all the gristle off the outside of the bone. I run a wire twist tie a/o a toothpick through any blood vessel channels. By the time the gristle is gone very little fat is coming off; I add some washing soda to the next to last hot water bath to encourage residual fat to depart. After the last simmering I allow the bone to air-dry out of reach of the cats.

I don't take any major precautions that I wouldn't take handling any raw meat. After cleaning it's cooked, but gently enough that it isn't embrittled. The easily-decayed soft tissues are removed. I have a kitchen drawer full of pieces of bone (and horn tips, and other oddments) available for projects.

#140 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2006, 02:38 AM:

When comic book writer Mark Gruenwald died unexpectedly and young, Marvel Comics reprinted the collection of his series Squadron Supreme...with a small amount of Gruenwald's ashes mixed into the ink. All accounts I've seen agree that he would have been delighted by this.

#141 ::: mark sennuck ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Here in BC there are so many things that we are forced to do for the good of all of us , why can't we make it so that every body who dies is a potentual organ doner unless they sign a card stating otherwise . To me it's a no brainer .

#142 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Thanks, all, for the nudge.
I signed my organ donor /driver's licence long ago.
But now I've finally also sent my aging parents the forms for a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Dad already emailed back, saying they would read and discuss. Hooray.

I was emergency temporary health care agent and amateur doctor for Dad, last year, with ventilator-requiring pneumonia in Budapest (where only Mom speaks the language). So I have some juice when I say they ought to discuss these issues.

#143 ::: Frieda ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 02:11 PM:

I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! I was very lucky to recieve a kidney transplant, and it has changed my life dramitically. Being on dialysis I could not do much at all. I was on it every night for 16 hours. The morning I got the call for my transplant I was so excited and my life had a huge turn. Thank You...please sign your donor card, it takes a minute and it can save someones life...and it only takes you a minute!! If you have questions please ask questions and do research...please don't be afraid, dont be scared to ask about it. You can save someone. I'm 16 now and I have had my brand new kidney for almost 2 whole years...it's like 2 years of freedom...my life back... and i feel so good! Thanks a bunch to all of you. You saved me! please save more people...help give them the chance...sign you're donor card..just takes a minute!

Life; live it, then give it

xoxoxoxoxo
peace n love

thank you more than words can say! RIP my donor.. you mean so much to me your in my thoughts everyday..you saved me xox..

#144 ::: GiftOfLife ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2009, 02:00 PM:

Your readers might also be interested in Gift of Life. They're a bone marrow and cord blood registry -- very easy to join (it just takes a single cheek swab to add yourself to the registry) and they're looking for people who can also raise awareness online (including through blogs).

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.