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Buster Benson

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What's the easiest way to save a life?
bird poops on plum branch
I heard a This American Life about someone who gave their kidney to a stranger, after a long string of bad luck on the donatee's part.  Also, my friend's husband just went through a crazy 3-year ordeal trying to get him a new kidney.  It seems like a no-brainer.  We should all save a life by donating a kidney.  The risks aren't actually that high... bleeding and infection are the major complications to worry about.  And according to the internet, life expectancy is not changed at all for those who have donated a kidney.  On the upside, you SAVE SOMEONE'S LIFE.  Also, if everyone did it, and continued to do it, we would have a surplus of kidneys to accept if and when our only kidney should have a problem.  But then again, maybe insurance policies would complain, and kidney surgens would get too rich.  If all cars hit the gas at once in a traffic jam, would we end up using more or less gas overall?  Probably less, right?  And all that free time.

Why does the United States export 1.4 million units of potatoes and import 1.2 million units?  Has Communism already won?

In any case, talking with a future nurse and a skeptical wife yesterday made me realize that I can start with giving blood, if I'm so gung-ho about saving a life.  Which seemed all too rational, and could not be argued with.  So we're going to the Puget Sound Blood Center this Monday (MLK Jr. Day and also Obama's National Day of Service) to see what that's all about.  And maybe to once and for all remember what my blood type is.

My brain is all over the place... like a monkey in a cage ready to get out and jump on trees.

What's the easiest way you can think of to save a life (other than putting one in danger first, Fight Club-style)?

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How about learning CPR or first aid? Or getting registered to be a bone marrow donor?

My grandma had a story about a doctor in her hospital taking out the wrong kidney and how the poor guy would come back each time he was in trouble. She was a nurse in the late 1930s, so I guess they didn't have good dialysis or transplant technology at the time.

Those are good ways to prepare lives, but I want a more direct link. Blood and bone marrow does seem to be the simplest link I can think of so far.

Why does the United States export 1.4 million units of potatoes and import 1.2 million units?

It doesn't say what kind of potatoes... we might import some kinds and export others. And sometimes different parts of the country might import them (from places like Prince Edward Island in Canada) as opposed to shipping them in from other states.

Why not ship them to other states rather than across the water and back? And mash'em all together into a mountain. Yummmmm...

it might also depend on what a "unit" is.

Like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Actually, since ~50% of the US crop is produced in WA & ID, it could easily be more expensive to ship to, say, Florida than someplace like Mexico City or Vancouver, BC. (And it looks like Canada & Mexico account for quite a bit of our exports.)

And, apropos of your recent posts, seasonality might have a lot to do with it. We likely produce surpluses when the crop is in season, shipping the excess to places where they're not locally in season. Then when they're in season down there, we import them here, so that we can enjoy them year-round.

That sorta makes sense... though potatoes are pretty easy to grow and are available most of the year in at least 10 states:

But yeah, Mexico and Canada... I can see why that would take place. I need more data!

This is what I was looking at. It was confusing me.

Man, I've always wanted to give blood. Someday I will be big enough.

Is it like going on rides at Disneyland?

Yep, except with weight instead of height.

Seems like the best excuse for late night hot dogs and tacos I can think of!

My kidney is spoken for! my mother donated hers to my brother 22 years ago and both of them are going strong, although I'm still holding mine in reserve should he encounter any difficulty.

As for easy ways to contribute to saving lives: education of yourself and others (raising awareness), donating blood, volunteering, fund raising.

Oh, that's interesting. Yes, it's good that you hang onto yours for sure.

PSBC will even mail you a membership-type card with your blood type on it, which makes it easy to remember. They also note your pulse (and maybe hematocrit?) on the back of the card, which can be fun to keep track of.

Sadly I tend to faint when I give blood, so I haven't done it in a while :(

The Red Cross won't take my blood! Because I lived in England for 3 months during the mad cow era. So I guess I'll have to save lives Fight Club style.

I just listened to that "This American Life"!

Two pelicans ate a meal, and then one of them asked, "Where's the bill?" HA!!!

I think that everyone's saving lives every day because of the butterfly effect. You are saving a life just by sitting at your computer reading this instead of walking into the street in front of a truck, which would cause it to swerve and hit a young mother with a baby carriage. You're a hero!

What about in a social rather than medical way, like volunteering at a shelter or food bank, tutoring children, staffing a runaway hotline, etc

Recently I was at someone's house and they were watching this travel show about Alaska. It was about the southeast panhandle and the blue whales and whatnot. The person I was with asked me if I had been there, and if that's what Alaska was like. I struggled with it a bit, because yes, I had been there, but... only parts of alaska were like that. Eventually I found my tongue and explained that while that's Alaska, it is some 900 miles from where I grew up - roughly the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles. It's easy to think of countries and other regions as these uniformed-sized blocks that are equidistant from the other blocks and all of the same sized. Viewed through this prism, your potato statistic sounds ridiculous. Thinking of it differently, though, it could be perfectly logical. The Idahoans send potatos to canada and the georgians get them from the Yucatan, which are both closer. Borders don't have to mean anything, do they? I believe that a single statistic almost never represents a problem, and it almost never represents a story. It does, however, almost always represent propaganda.

As for saving lives, I'd think that was pretty simple, though I'm surprised that no one's mentioned it. But Sally Struthers was basically right on that one - I'd say hands down the easiest/cheapest way is to donate to something like Doctors Without Borders or Care. It may not appeal to our senses of patriotism or heroicism, but a life's a life and that's the most effective way. You could save something like 1,000 lives for the cost of the procedure to remove your kidney.

Edited at 2009-01-17 11:54 pm (UTC)

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