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Two Takes On A Foster Kid's Plight

       My July 10 column about a 15-year-old foster child tossed off the waiting list for a donor liver provoked a number of interesting letters. David Undis, of the non-profit Lifesharers, wrote:
Dear Mr. Grimm:
You know what else is barbaric?  Refusing to donate your organs when you die.  In the United States, only half of the organs that could be transplanted from the recently deceased are donated.  The rest, about 20,000 organs every year, are buried or cremated.  Each of these organs could have saved someone's life.
About 50% of the organs transplanted in America go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.  As long as we let non-donors jump to the front of the waiting list if they need a transplant we'll always have an organ shortage.
There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.
Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors.  It will also make the organ allocation system fairer.  People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.
Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers.  LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die.  Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88.  There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.  LifeSharers has 11,500 members, including 1,013 members in Florida. 
Please contact me if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors.  I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you.
David J. Undis
Executive Director
LifeSharers
6509 Cornwall Drive
Nashville, TN 37205
Another reaction to the same column, from one very unhappy reader:

I very much enjoy your articles as a rule.  However, I believe you have culpably crossed over the line of human decency with today’s little goodie.  Strictly a knee-jerk reaction.

You have done a great disservice to your readers and society as a whole with your loaded words.  Disgraceful indeed.

Have you any idea whatsoever of how many of us are patiently awaiting the opportunity to acquire a…new liver???  An opportunity that will likely NOT come to pass.  Some of

us are/have been extremely “productive” citizens and have added a great deal of positivity to the world in which we dwell.  We find ourselves, thru absolutely no fault of our own,

caught up in this nightmare of watching ourselves slowly die as a result of liver-disease that cannot be treated due to the fact that the good ol’ USA is light-years behind certain other

countries in this respect.  Research money is in…Iraq.  And Gawd knows where else.

And so it is that you would rocket this unfortunate child from “Central Florida” to the “head of the line.”    And in so doing, thanks to your emotional, rather mindless publicity, you falsify

facts, etc., and build up anger and hostility within the rancid masses out there.   Not unlike Bush/McCain, et al.

I could easily and readily educate you re some of the transplant-awaiters – but I don’t think you are at all interested.   Far easier to just…print and run, leaving your debris behind you.

I think that what you have done here is a stench in the nostrils of the very word, “decency.”  This is one article which you should wear much like a convict’s uniform in the prisonhouse

of the human spirit.

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