One for the "Animal rights activists don’t care about people!" crowd.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Via the Lantern Books blog, I learned that author/activist Hillary Rettig – whose book, The Lifelong Activist, I had the pleasure of reviewing a few years back – donated a kidney, unbidden, to a complete stranger.

She details her story over at The GirlieGirl Army, in a humorous post titled “Kidney Karmarama, or… How My Kidney Found Mr. Right”:

What’s the awesomest gift you can give someone? Their life back, right?

That’s what I had been thinking for a while. And so, I had been looking into donating a kidney. From my research I knew that the surgery was really safe (only 2/10,000 fatality rate, lower than for appendectomies), and that you can survive perfectly well with just one kidney. Really what you’re looking at is a bit of inconvenience in exchange for…saving someone’s life.

Sign me up!

My research eventually led me to a popular site called matchingdonors.com, and even though I knew what I was going to find there, I was NOT prepared. It’s like a dating site, except the personal ads are all from people begging you to save their lives by giving them a kidney. So it’s full of messages like:

“I’m 40 years old and want to live to see my kids grow up.”

“I’m 60 years old and hoping to live to attend my grandson’s graduation.”

“I’m 25 years old and just want the chance to live a normal life.”

Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe it. Most of these people were on dialysis, where, three times a week, you sit for hours hooked up to a machine that does the kidney-work of filtering out waste from your blood. Dialysis is, at best, a mixed blessing: it keeps you alive, but totally screws up your life and doesn’t even work all that well. Most dialysis patients are weak and sick all the time, and die within a few short years.

Once I saw the matching donors ads, I knew I would have to donate – how can you turn someone away when you’ve seen their face and heard their desperate story? In fact, I wished I had a thousand extra kidneys to donate. But I only had one, so how to choose?

Lots of the people self-identified as animal lovers, with some including photos of themselves with their companion animals in their ads. As a vegan and animal/veg activist I knew I would definitely want to donate to one of them. And then I came across an ad without a picture that included this text:

“I am a retired Veterinarian from Colorado. My wife and I started a no-kill animal shelter 20 years ago to give animals a second chance at life. I would like a second chance too. We have invested everything to help save the animals.”

My kidney starting singing sweet songs of love, having found its dream recipient. His name is Bill Suro, and the shelter he and his wife Nanci started in Denver is called MaxFund. They save sweeties like Millie, a dog who was found in New Mexico with anemia, a fused spine, grossly infected back feet, and (rage alert) BB shots embedded throughout her body. Many shelters would have euthanized her, but at Maxfund she got all the medical help she needed and is now whizzing around in a rollie cart! (See her story here; joyful weeping alert.)

So I called Bill and offered to donate.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Lifelong Activist by Hillary Rettig (2006)

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Wow, has it been a month already?

Awhile back, you may remember, Lantern Books sent me my very first package of swag, which consisted of Dr. Michael Greger’s newest book, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, as well as Hillary Rettig’s recent release, The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way.

After a long delay, here’s my Amazon review of The Lifelong Activist.

And then ‘scuse me while I go get moving on Bird Flu – which, I might add, is available in full online (!). How cool is that?

The Lifelong Activist by Hillary Rettig

(More below the fold…)

My very first shout-out!

Monday, November 13th, 2006

I received my first package of swag in the mail Friday, so here comes the promised shout-out.

Colbert Report Shout-Out

Sorry, I had to do that. Really.

Anywho – the good folks at Lantern Books sent me copies of Dr. Michael Greger’s newest book, Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching (tbr November 15),

Bird Flu by Michael Greger

as well as Hillary Rettig’s recent release, The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way.

The Lifelong Activist by Hillary Rettig

Thanks, guys!

So far I’ve only had a chance to skim each, but they both look like good reads. Reviews forthcoming – I’ll post them here and on Amazon when I’m done.

BTW, if you haven’t yet, go check out Lantern Books. Their catalog focuses on a number of progressive topics, including animal advocacy, vegetarianism, nature and environment, and social thought. They also maintain a mailing list for animal advocates and NYC residents (sign up to receive notices of NYC events, and watch while this Kansan turns green with envy).

As always, if you’ve got a book, CD, movie, etc. that you’d like me to mention here and/or review – I like stuff. Especially free stuff. Details and contact info here.

An interesting aside on Bird Flu – one of my biggest gripes with the mainstream media is their (collective) bad habit of not following up on stories. I was recently considering this in relation to the whole bird flu scare (remember how the bird flu reports practically disappeared after 2004, even though the virus is still spreading today?), when I happened to spot a mention of the bird flu on the CNN ticker.

The general gist of it:

The U.S. government has approved the use of firefighting foam to kill chickens quickly if there is an outbreak of deadly bird flu in commercial poultry.

The Agriculture Department says water-based foam can be an alternative to carbon dioxide, which has traditionally been used to quickly kill large quantities of birds.

Foam can be used to suffocate floor-reared flocks _ chickens and turkeys raised primarily for meat _ to contain deadly bird flu, said APHIS spokeswoman Karen Eggert. Foam also can be used in outbreaks of rapidly spreading disease such as Exotic Newcastle, a fatal respiratory virus in birds, when state or federal officials deem it necessary.

And it can be used when birds are in structurally unsound buildings, such as a building damaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster, she said.

But in Canada, a senior official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said this form of killing is not considered humane and Canada will not adopt the practice.

“The information that we have at this point in time suggests that rather than humanely destroying the birds, they in effect drown from inhaling the material, the water in it.”

The practice has other critics. Animal rights advocates argue against using the foam because it suffocates the animals, and they are urging authorities to use gases instead.

Lovely. And in their true lazy, ADD-addled fashion, nary a word of this was said on CNN. Apparently, only the intern who operates the ticker thought that widespread, government-endorsed animal cruelty was worth a mention.

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