Monday, March 26, 2012

Questioning Dick Cheney's Heart Transplant

On Saturday, just a few hours after posting a blog about organ donation, I got the word via "breaking news" that former Vice-President Dick Cheney had just undergone heart transplant surgery.

As someone with a pacemaker and a history of cardiac problems, I have developed a keen interest in the subject of heart transplants. For a while, I even wondered if there would come a time when my name would be added to the long list of those needing, and waiting for a new heart.

With the passage of time, however, I advanced to an age where hearts from donors are usually no longer available. Heart transplants are normally reserved for those under 70 years of age. For that very good reason, I found myself immediately questioning the availability of a new heart for Dick Cheney.

As a longtime critic of the former Vice-President, I know there will be some who will question my questioning. But I believe that most Americans--especially those who are on, or have family members on the waiting list--must be asking why, and how, Cheney, at age 71 and in poor health, was given a heart after only 20 months on the waiting list.

As of Saturday, the day on which Dick Cheney received his new heart, there were 72,855 people eligible for, and waiting for, immediate organ transplants. This, according to the national Organ Procurement And Transplantation Network.

Among those waiting, there must surely be healthier and/or more deserving candidates than Dick Cheney. It would seem likely that there are potential recipients who are in their forties or fifties or younger--perhaps some with children.

On Saturday, 18 people died while waiting for an organ transplant, On average, the same number--18--will die every day in the forseeable future for lack of an organ transplant.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thinking About Organ Donation? -- Put It In Writing

Saturday morning's meeting with three future health care professionals was our fourth--and final get-together this school year.

My University of Florida student friends have helped me learn more about organ donation, and the donation of one's body to medical research.

This column will be devoting time and space to those subjects in future, but meanwhile it's time to mention again the urgent need in both areas.

Organ donation and the donation of one's body after death are very personal and sensitive issues, and we know that some people have thought it over and have decided, for one or more of a variety of reasons, to pass on the idea. That is their perogative, and I respect their decision.

This reminder is aimed at those who favor organ or body donation, but who have not yet made a firm commitment.

Please! Please! Put it in writing!

Every day in America, 18 people die while waiting for an organ transplant.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Remembering My Time With Encyclopedia Britannica

It was inevitable.

The moment the world was introduced to search engines, the days of Encyclopedia Britannica were numbered. And now we are told that the 2010 edition is the end--the last edition.

Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, etcetera have rendered most printed reference material nearly useless.

The news of Britannica's demise conjures up, for me, a bittersweet memory of a time, long ago, when I was briefly a part of the encyclopedia business.

During a six-month stint in southern California, after leaving college, I took a position with Encyclopedia Britannica--selling the books door to door.

The job was interesting, and a valuable lesson about life. Knocking on doors taught me to expect, and accept, occasional rejection. It taught me about diversity, and how different things are important to different people.

From the outset, I had a problem selling encyclopedias. It seemed as though every home I entered had needs more urgent than a set of books that were outdated the moment after receipt. I had trouble pushing them on people who obviously had better use for their money.

My career as a door to door salesman lasted 30 days. In that one month the grand total of books I sold was zero. I made no money at all--but I did get a lot of exercise.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whose Idea Was This DST Thing?

Today there's lots of folks rolling out of bed feeling one-hour short of a good night's rest, and wondering who the heck came up with this Daylight Savings thing.

By nightfall, though, the grumblings of the morning will have been forgotten as they enjoy that extra hour before dark.

As for who first dreamed up the idea for a Daylight Saving Time--that would be one of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, way back in the late 1700s.

As for the why--it was to save on the use, and the cost of candles.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Drug Testing -- Employers Have A Right To Know

Yesterday, the Florida legislature passed a controversial bill which will allow state agencies to randomly drug-test applicants and employees. Governor Rick Scott has said he will sign the measure, which will make Florida the first state in the nation to enact such a law.

The mandatory drug-testing is opposed by the AFL-CIO, which represents some 100,000 state employees. The unions see the drug tests as an invasion of privacy. And the ACLU is again questioning the constitutionality of such a law--citing the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.

I believe that employers--be they private or the government--have a right to know if their employees are healthy enough to safely and competently perform their jobs. And the use of drugs certainly does adversely affect health.

A few years ago, I was fired from three jobs in a matter of a few weeks because I had failed to disclose problems of health on my applications for employment.

The circumstances surrounding the firings are detailed in "Homeless Isn't Hopeless", but suffice it to say that all three employers were justified in cutting loose an employee who might constitute a danger to himself or others.

My employers had a right to know of any debilitating health conditions before hiring me, and any employer, including the government, has a right to know of any drug-related problems before, and while employing workers.