Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Possibilities as Far as the Eye can See

Just a short note today to get both you and myself out in the beautiful Alberta sun, where we belong.

The Toronto star reports that a cornea was transplanted into an 11-year old Kenyan girl while a woman in Scarborough waited to see again. The piece is delicately written, but it's hard to get behind the notion that this little girl should not have been given a cornea since she does not live in Canada and the other woman does, but the paper does its level best. I understand that Canada should use its resources on its people first, or we risk martyring ourselves trying to solve all the world's problems; but to draw attention to the fact is pretty gauche, especially at the expense of a young girl.

The reading makes it clear that the problem lies in the inflexibility of the system, the inability to cope with the lack of an operating room, that is leading us to reject viable donations, sending them overseas where the timeline (one week in Canada) is more forgiving (two weeks). However the corrective suggestion posed is ill thought out. One example mentions how a transplant was delayed because it was bumped for an emergency surgery, but we can't expect that donations will start to take precedence over all other surgeries. The problem with giving emergencies and donations unlimited priority is that mundane, but necessary, surgeries will be pushed back and back into non-existence. There are always emergencies.

The problem is, at heart, a geographic problem. For every viable tissue, there is a viable recipient. All that is required is a room. Considering the timeline is a full week, what should be happening is a coordination of all nation-wide forms of transportation. Over the course of a week it is likely that there is at least one operating room available somewhere, all we need to do is muster the resolve to match tissue, donor, and room in the same location.

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