August 15, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 337

Organ Transplant Terrorism
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 15--Life offers some unique twists.  One of them is an organ recall.   Defective hearts?  Defective livers?  Defective lungs?
        The news of one of the nation's largest organ clearing houses not testing its organs for HIV virus has sent a shock through those who bet their lives on another's life.   The best they can do is hope that their transplanted organ isn't infected.

        And just the other day I read a report from France where a 68-year-old woman was pronounced dead and sent to a funeral home.  By law, a body can't be buried for 24 hours, just in case.
         When the mortician opened up the refrigerator where the body was being housed, he noticed a movement in the chest.   The woman was breathing.  She was still alive.  Later, she died of pneumonia, and had been terminally ill from cancer.
         I really don't need to read about the horrors of medical error.    A number of years ago I was misdiagnosed with iron deficiency, when in fact I had colon cancer.    It's hard to say how bad the cancer became over the intervening year-and-a-half before I fainted, having lost nearly five pints of blood over eight months.    I recovered well.  That was more than six years ago, but the experience still haunts me.
        Recently, I lifted something too heavy and a sharp, nauseating pain raged through my back.  I'm 6-4, 270 pounds, and have always been "strong" in the sense of lifting anything, or carrying lots of weight without a blink.    I found out I had a herniated disc, and, a big fat tumor butting up against my fourth lumbar. 
       "That's the biggest I've ever seen," my orthopedic doctor said.   "Better send you to a neurosurgeon."
       I had double MRI's, regular and contrast.   The goal was to look for anything malignant.   It appeared nothing was cancerous, but the presence of the "blob" in my spine, coupled with my colon cancer history, set off alarms.
      I guess that's why the headlines of the possibly infected organs, and the dead/live body leapt out at me.  
      I'm medically gun-shy.   I tell every doctor about being misdiagnosed, just to insure he or she is fully aware I enter their medical world with prejudice, and, without further discussion, demand thorough and complete analysis.

      So, I'm going back for more MRI's.   This time at the bequest of the neurosurgeon.  
      My problems seem minor to someone who recently had an organ transplant delivered by the clearing house that didn't follow HIV testing procedures.   I think about those people, some wondering if the miracle they received is now a Terrorist inside their body, waiting to implode a deadly virus, or, perhaps it has.
      I feel empathy for those who wonder what's going to happen to them.   I live with the constant threat of cancer's return, even though statistically its return is minimized, it still exists, not unlike a possibly infected organ transplant in a donor's body.    


       Terrorism is all about Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   Its goal, whether brought about by Osama bin Laden, or by a cancer cell, or an infected organ, is to cloud our vision of life with the darkness of impending death.   It tries to suffocate Hope.   It tries to strangle one's will to stand on his or her two feet and stare Terrorism in the eye.
      Vigilance is about Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.   It means those of us who have been exposed to medical Terrorism, or Osama bin Laden Terrorism, or any other form of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       I take the Sentinels of Vigilance with me everywhere, not only to the doctor's office, but on the subway, walking down the street, in my dreams, and most importantly, in my thoughts.   I ask them to help me stare Terrorism in the eye, to not fall victim to its Complacency, or bow to its Fear and Intimidation.
       I hope those who received Terrorist organ transplants will become Citizens, Parents and Loved Ones of Vigilance.   I hope they stand tall and stare Terrorism in the eye.

Go Aug. 14--Voyagers Of Vigilance

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design