Sunday, August 30, 2009

Larry's Kidney

"Being the true story of how I found myself in China with my black sheep cousin and his mail-order bride, skirting the law to get him a transplant -and save his life" by Daniel Asa Rose.

I heard the author of this book interviewed on NPR and of course had to get it and read it even though I have stacks of books ahead of it. -many that I have had to rush out and get in a similar fashion. But this is a topic that has long been of interest to me, having worked in ICUs and experienced several sides of the transplant dilemma.

Daniel's cousin Larry was desperate for a kidney. Not one was in sight, for there were 74,000 ahead of him in the US.

So the two set out to search for a friendly kidney in China, the controversial hot bed of transplants. Why so many in China? Thousands of prisoners are executed each year, some true murders but some maybe not. We don't know. These prisoners offer a near endless supply of kidneys, hearts, livers, lungs and other body parts. Although it is illegal to sell kidneys to westerners, Larry and Dan were determined to find a kidney.

I won't give a complete review of this book because you can read many reviews just by googleing the title.

It is written with a great deal of humor -black comedy- and you will laugh and cry at their
journey through the black market of "Transplant Tourism". It also presents a different culture from the US where the selling of organs is considered taboo. This in spite of long waiting lists

Many medical ethicists and transplant Dr's are willing to bring up the discussion of how to procure more organs. Spain has organ donation by default. I.e. unless one specifies otherwise, organs are automatically harvested in the deceased when possible. Even this doesn't
result in sufficient organs to meet the needs. Consequently there is a huge black market in Middle east and Asian countries that prey on the poor to sell their organs to the rich. Until recently, South Africa would transport poor people from South America to provide kidneys to wealthy Americans. Truly "Global" trade.

Something more to think about. And a good read.

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