My Organs: An Owner’s Manual

16 Jul

Early on in Never Let Me Go—the novel I reviewed this week in which test tube babies are raised for the express purpose of donating their organs—we find out that the guardians (teachers) at Hailsham (boarding school for future donors) are more adamant than most adults about the perils of cigarettes. Of course, later we come to understand why—physical health is all the more important if your insides are slated for charity.

This got me thinking about how atrocious of a test tube baby I would be, and the ultimate misfortune of an individual stuck with my organs. So, in the interest of full disclosure for my potential future hosts (I am honestly a donor) here is some information you should probably know about my organs:

1. Eyes: Useless. Like, super useless. In fact, at my last eye doctor appointment, I cracked a joke about how I was slowly going blind, and the optometrist just kind of looked at me and blinked, like maybe this was a foregone conclusion and instead of spending $500 on a pair of glasses I should be looking into seeing-eye dogs (no pun intended.) So if you get stuck with these things, I’m sorry. Here’s hoping you don’t count chads for a living.

2. Ears: I played flute for about two years in elementary school, which isn’t a testament to my musical prowess so much as my parents’/teachers’ tolerance for wildly unimpressive instrumental work. But I would say I’ve maintained some semblance of rhythm and musicality over the years, which, is that an ear thing? Brain thing? I need to read more Oliver Sacks books. In any case, these days I use my ears mostly for music, and eavesdropping, and understanding reality television. So they’re in good shape.  Of course, a botched Claire’s visit back in 1996 means I have rather uneven piercing holes, but hey—beggars can’t be choosers.

3. Kidneys: So I just looked up kidneys on Wikipedia because, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve never been totally sure what it is they do, only that it has something to do with peeing and maybe blood pressure? Maybe I made that up. Anyway, I also happen to know that you only need one kidney, which means that technically I’ve already got one to spare. But as Alexander Graham Bell said, preparation is the key to success—it’s like he knew we’d be using our iPhones to Facebook stalk blind dates—and I like to be prepared for the possibility of getting abducted and waking up without a kidney.

4. Lungs: I have a lot of dubious habits that endanger my organs: television/eyes, television/brain, cheese/heart, etc. But excluding a three-month period in high school where I took up smoking because thought I was awesome, I’ve never been much for cigarettes. This of course doesn’t mean that my lungs are in great shape—I still live in New York, where each day brings the inhalation of everything from truck exhaust to the sweat of a thousand hipsters—but they probably don’t look like old raisin bread. Just fresh raisin bread.

5. Heart: It will be a lucky man or woman that gets hold of the old ticker when I’m gone. Of course, the thing’s been broken once or twice (wah wahhhh), but generally speaking it seems to do the job. By which I mean that I have a heartbeat (treadmills universally agree!) and blood seems to get to the places it’s supposed to. Of course, as a donation recipient, you may start sobbing maniacally at ASPCA commercials, or develop a sudden love for Broadway musicals, or find yourself drawn to episodes of Intervention, but that’s neither here nor there. The important part is that my heart will ….go on. If not in you, then in a TLC special about cardiac surgery. (Can you donate your organs to TV?)

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