Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Gift of Life and Love

In the provocative and excellent film Jesus of Montreal the young actor playing Jesus in a passion play suffers a head injury in a tragi-comic melee which involves the police. Although he is rushed to the hospital (appropriately a Jewish hospital) he succumbs to his injury and dies. His friends, also in the play, must decide whether his healthy organs will be removed and transplanted into needy recipients. We see his heart being removed and carried away to give life to someone else. Of course there are echoes of Christ's sacrificial love for others. The "sacred heart of Jesus" beats on in someone else.

With all the media attention around a two-month-hold infant named Kaylee, whose heart might have been transplanted into another very sick child except for her unexpected tenacity, you would think someone would make a connection with this holiest of Christian weeks, but I haven't seen or heard anything.

This is the second big transplant story in a matter of weeks. The actor Natasha Richardson suffered what proved to be a fatal injury on a ski slope near Montreal and her organs were used to give life to others. It is an emotional decision for families, but an important one. I was surprised to hear this morning that Canada has the lowest per capita rate of organ donation amongst developed nations. The doctor sharing this information expressed his own surprise given the generosity of Canadians in general.

This transplant specialist mentioned that not only should we sign our donor cards, we need to tell our families of our decision because it is so difficult to decide in the midst of emotional turmoil. After Richardson's death we reminded our adult children of our wishes, although I think the warranty has expired on most of our parts!

What about you, dear readers? Have you signed donor cards and made your wishes known?
Since writing this morning I listened to a CBC radio phone-in where those who been affected by organ transplantation told their stories. It was quite moving. One man was a kidney recipient from a living donor he didn't know before his need was made known -- through Craigslist! Snow tires, a Play Station sure, but a kidney? I suppose it never hurts to try.

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