Thursday, January 11, 2018

Should others be able to tell me that I "should" donate organs even while alive? "Should" give to or promote a specific charity?


Dylan Matthews of Vox media offers a rather strident piece,Why I gave my kidney to a stranger, and why you should consider doing it too”, dated back in April.

The piece is rather long, almost a short book. But I get concerned when others tell me what “you” should do, out of collective values. 

When I was growing up, heroic medical interventions were rarely expected because they weren’t yet possible.  Apart from blood drives, you rarely heard about organ donation. But the culture has changed in recent years, as Robin Roberts demonstrated on ABC about her own receiving a bone marrow transplant to stave off an unusual leukemia.

Gay men got bounced out of the blood and therefore organ donation loop by HIV in the 1980s, and only very recently have been allowed back in with very strict conditions of previous long term abstinence..

But a bigger point is a sense of body sanctity (even if I don’t wear shorts anymore).  Simple blood donation is one thing; plasmapheresis is another; but undergoing major surgery sounds over the top. I can imagine other places this goes ("Be brave and shave"). 

Yet, I don’t have the ability to bond intimately with people to get beyond these sensitivities.


I saw a tweet from a friend (in the media) noting a charity he had donate do (regarding displaced Syrians) with the comment “you should to.”  Again, it’s not appropriate for others to decide what my priorities should be.  But in this case, I looked up the small charity, and set up an arrangement for a small automated monthly contribution from my mother’s trust.  So the “should” worked.

There is some karma here.  In the past, even before AIDS was a well known problem, there were incidents in my own personal life involving the possibility of dialysis and also of a lymphoma-like cancer among personal friends. And of course HIV took over everything in the 80s.

There was an incident at work around 1993 when I was embarrassed at work about not being able to join a blood drive.  Yet during the aftermath of the Russian anti-gay propaganda law of 2013, I actually heard the comment that gay people were viewed as undermining the solidarity of the public over blood and organ donations.

I generally do not allow “other people’s causes” to take over my own presence or self-branding.  I don’t use my social media pages for “other people’s fundraising” or political activism, but I will give links to these. I don’t allow my home or car to display ads for other causes (other than the Libertarian sticker on my rear bumper).  

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