Bitch on the Blog

March 14, 2012


Filed under: Ethics — bitchontheblog @ 20:18
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On my own blog, little lamb that I am, I don’t go for subjects that may ignite political, religious or any other bees in bonnets. I will occasionally succumb to voicing views in other bloggers’ comment boxes – on the very subjects I try to avoid in public.Though have currently put myself in quarantine.

HOWEVER (I hate it when I use the word ‘however’. It’s rarely a bearer of good news.) HOWEVER, this minute I will make an exception to my rule: Just read about a woman (well known author) whose son donated one of his kidneys to her. Who wants to die? Yet, unless my son wrestled me to the ground, I would NOT allow him to mutilate himself for me. Put his own life at risk. Naturally, one could now discuss whether that’s selfish of me. I believe life goes FORWARD and, as hard as it is, we need to leave our parents behind.




  1. I clicked “like” on this, not that I agree with you, but because you manage to find a topic that really provokes deep thoughts layered with all sorts of complexities. I don’t have a lot of time to really process all you say, but it appears to me that there is some battle of nobility that is being waged. There is great nobility in your position. So too however, is there great nobility in the actions of a son who would donate a kidney to save the life of his mother. If there is a chance your son could save your life, why would you steadfastly refuse? How can you live without it? How can he live knowing he might have been able?

    I can see your point if mother asks first instead of son offering entirely of his own volition. No easy answers here for sure.

    Interesting topic. I hope more will offer their thoughts to the discussion.

    Comment by Phil — March 15, 2012 @ 14:42 | Reply

    • Phil, thanks for taking the time. It is a mind blowing subject indeed.

      This is not about “some battle of nobility that is being waged”. Oddly, Lorna used a similar term in her answer. I don’t care about being “noble”. And I most certainly wouldn’t enter “a battle of nobility” with my son or anyone else. It’s not a competition. The only battle I would wage is to talk him out of it should he so be inclined as to sacrifice part of him – and I hope the idea wouldn’t even enter his mind.

      I gave birth to a pretty much perfect human being – ten toes, ten fingers. A brain. Two kidneys. Blond hair, blue eyes – Hitler would have been proud. Who says he won’t need his “spare” some day himself? Happened to his father who (age 18 or so) lost one of his kidneys. You can survive on one. But you can’t survive on none. As an aside: The only good outcome of that was that FOS stopped riding motorbikes (the likelihood of losing a kidney, if you survive a cycle accident at all, being high).

      Secondly, my son is considerably younger than I am – I am sure that second kidney being of far more use to him – in the long run – than to me.

      I know I am getting lost in many possible scenarios (that’s the beauty of discussing ‘ethics’ – try and find your way out of a labyrinth).

      So, one possible scenario: Let’s imagine, some time in the future, he has buried his mother (due to wear and tear of old age) together with his relatively new kidney, has a child or five himself. What if the mother of his children, indeed any of the kids, needs a kidney? He wouldn’t have one spare, would he? Rotting away inside his mother’s body. (Which reminds me: I wonder whether a donated kidney can be used twice over. Passed down the years as it were. Like family silver).

      It gets worse: Such are moral conundrums: What if his father (him of one kidney) suddenly needed a donor? I’d put my foot down, and find him a dead person’s one instead. If it killed me. Whilst, as I said in my original post, no one wants to die I am pretty sure his father (though who knows) wouldn’t accept the “gift” (I call it “sacrifice”) either.

      A wider concept: I believe us (our bodies) to be “self contained”. We have to live with the card we’ve been dealt. And whilst I understand the need for donating organs to the very young, just starting out in life, those of us past a certain age (you may call it “sell by date” as opposed to “use by date”) I just think it plain wrong to deprive a younger person for the sake of a much older one. It doesn’t add up. IT DOES NOT ADD UP.

      As to organ donation after death: Let’s not go there. I am ashamed to confess that my reason and my heart do not agree. Reason clearly dictates that whatever of your leftovers are useful to be used. The heart sinks at imagining myself going to my grave less than intact. I know it’s irrational. But there you are. Anyway, by the time I die I’ll be so much scrap it won’t be of use to anyone. I also comfort myself that, by then, technology will have found a way of growing body parts out of potatoes gone green.

      Phil, with a sigh in my heart (death, dying, ethics, the chosen subjects of my studies) I wrestle. I wrestle. I wrestle. Death entered my life early – pulled the “safety net” from underneath my feet. Even decades later, come 18 Feb, well … As I said somewhere else recently: The dead don’t know that they are dead. So what’s it to them? Nothing. It’s those they leave behind who need to be pitied.

      Slightly veering off course. But then it’s a subject so close to me.

      To summon up my position in the original post: Whilst I would do anything for the Angel, I do not believe that a child should do everything for their parent. A thought which neatly brings us to the worst affliction of all: Guilt, a legacy I hope I will not leave. Yes, the way the human mind meanders, getting lost (see above labyrinth).. I tell you, Phil, sometimes I wish I were a hawk or an eagle with no more care in the world than to survey the world from a great height and no other worry than to find a mouse to feed my young. Bliss.


      Comment by Ursula — March 18, 2012 @ 09:44 | Reply

      • What an incredibly thoughtful and insightful reply. I now have a much deeper understanding of why this very topic has hit a nerve ending. I agree we could contemplate so very many scenarios, each to sketch a slightly different perspective of this moral conundrum. What’s even more fascinating in moral conundrums is deeper understanding of all the arguments doesn’t necessarily lead to any changing of positions, only an appreciation of how difficult it is for each of us to hold firm to the ground we claim.

        You believe the body is self contained. I do understand your comment, yet I wonder, what are your thoughts on blood donations and transfusions? There are those who will refuse the blood of another on religious and moral grounds as well, even if it could save their own life. I realize the body has a means to reproduce blood, and yet is it not at least a similar argument? Always a blur in the lines we draw.

        As always, I find myself with far too little time to delve deeply into the topic. I shall think more about what you say and hopefully return later to supplement these questions with a few thoughts of my own.

        Bliss – interesting how most people describe bliss as a state free and liberated from our every day worry and existence, an altered state of consciousness on an entirely different plane in time and space. I wonder what that implies about our human condition…

        Comment by Phil — March 19, 2012 @ 12:13 | Reply

        • My dear Phil, yes, blood transfusions. The great life saver. One of my nephews was afflicted with a condition I can’t remember the name of this minute. I don’t know how many complete blood exchanges he had as a baby/toddler. Eventually they took out his spleen. He is in his teens now, big, bouncy, healthy. Though may have caused his mother, my sister, a grey hair or two.

          I’d give blood as quickly as I faint (low blood pressure). Alas they won’t let me.

          The difference between being a living donor of an organ to giving blood that, as you say, blood replaces itself whilst (apart from a damaged liver) organs don’t.

          Yes, Bliss. An astute observation you make. However, for me bliss is not so much about being “free and liberated from our every day worry…” it’s more the immediacy. And, of course, that is what animals do. Attend to a need as and when. Just do it, instead of reflecting on it. I remember most distinctly, and on more than one occasion, people, most exasperated with me, saying: “You think too much, Ursula.” An observation which had nothing to do with the quality of my thinking. Just with torturing everyone. Actually, there was an even better one, and I don’t understand it to this day: “Ursula, you take life too seriously.” What do you want me to do? Insert smileys?

          I was going to say “I am not good at focusing”, but that’s not true at all. I focus – on that which is important to me. And, given my fear of height, yes, sometimes I wish I could just switch off and be that (big) bird in the sky. Waiting for the mouse. Give me a chair to stand on.

          Which reminds me, apropos of nothing: Apparently you are never further away from a rat than three to six meters. It’s not that I don’t like rats They are, like pigs, intelligent. And if I sat in prison, solitary confinement, I am sure I’d welcome a rat, even a spider, for company. The rat’s design fault is their naked tail. It’s revolting.


          Comment by Ursula — March 19, 2012 @ 20:31 | Reply

  2. Medical ethics, moral imperatives. Sheesh, U, are you trying to make my brain hurt? Whose more noble: the son who offers up the hope of life to the woman who gave him life or the woman who gave him life rejecting his offer to keep him safe from a surgery he wouldn’t have to have if it weren’t for her?

    People are under a false illusion that we can control outcomes (save mothers; protect sons). We can’t. We can only have wholesome intentions and do our best. The outcomes are not ours to control; expecting that we can is what brings us bitter disappointment.

    I say examine the intention of the action to determine the value of the action. Beyond that, the waters are too murky to navigate. At least for me.

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — March 15, 2012 @ 20:22 | Reply

    • “Noble”? Please do see my reply to Phil. I don’t believe having given life to be a trade off. It isn’t.

      As to your “control” we can, and we can’t [control].Beauty being, and here is “control”: If I don’t accept my son’s (or anyone’s) “gift” then he wouldn’t be able to give it. Whch would, no doubt, cause a major row but I’d spare him an organ, the guilt and save my conviction.

      You are right there are things beyond our control. Luckily, whilst my expectations of life and people high, when either disappoints it may knock me sideways for a moment, or three years. I am lucky that way: I may hurt yet take it in my stride. Can’t explain why I am happy/content even when misery in on my card.


      Comment by Ursula — March 18, 2012 @ 09:53 | Reply

  3. I was once going to give a kidney to my uncle but the exploratory surgery prior to the transplant showed that he had cancer in other organs as well. He was my mother’s brother and she was ok with it. I think you are more like me – a mother bear who protects our cub at all costs. Glad to see you out a proverbial limb here with what could be controversial topic. We need more truly substantive conversations,not less.

    Comment by writingfeemail — March 16, 2012 @ 00:38 | Reply

    • Renee, one of my points in my reply to Phil: Who knows whether a youngster might not need his second kidney for himself, in the long distance future? And why were we given two of some (and only ONE appendix)? I didn’t call my post “spares” for nothing. And I am glad you kept your kidney.

      Yes, Mama Bear looking out for her cub.

      I couldn’t agree more, fluff is fun yet: “We need more truly substantive conversations”. However, that’s fool’s gold on blogs and in their comment boxes. Which is why I am so glad that the three of you have engaged. However, imagine us sitting in the same room, on a bench in the park, or on the beach, thrashing out a subject in real time. Oh, the fun of it. Collapsing, exhausted, in a heap.


      Comment by Ursula — March 18, 2012 @ 10:07 | Reply

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