Friday, June 10, 2011

Kidneys, man, kidneys

There was a popular joke when I was a kid that had, as its punch line, “Kidneys, man, kidneys.” The set up was that a moron, when asked how he’d been smart enough to figure something out, pointed to his head and said, “Kidneys, man, kidneys.”

My other kidney story took place in a convention center ladies room where one poor woman was standing over the sinks with her breast pump expressing herself under what could only be described as sub-optimal conditions. A woman at the sink next to her asked her if she were undergoing dialysis. (Ah, yes, the well known portable self-dialysis through the breast technique…)

Other than that, kidneys are no laughing matter – at least not in my family. My father died of kidney disease at the age of 58. The last seven years of his life were off-and-on miserable – mostly on in the last year or so.

Anyway, I was intrigued to read about the 17 year old Chinese boy who sold one of his kidneys for a little over $3K.

Now, I have no idea what a kidney is worth, but it seems to me that, even for a 17 year old kid in China, it’s save-a-life value is a lot higher than $3K. But, of course, there’s the middle-man who’s doing the business development and taking all the risk, and he has to be compensated…

In any case, as PC Magazine has it, the enterprising (I guess) Chinese lad was willing to sell one of his because for an all American, all consumer reason:

“I wanted to buy an iPad 2 but could not afford it," the boy told the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

The kid is now ailing:

It turned out that the Chenzhou No. 198 Hospital was not qualified to perform organ transplant. The hospital claimed they had no idea about Zheng's surgery because the department that did the surgery had been contracted to a Fujian businessman.

That damned outsourcing’ll get you every time.

The young knucklehead – surprise, surprise – did this without his parents’ permission.

The police have gotten involved, but the broker – surprise, surprise – is nowhere to be found. He’s vamoosed, and his cell phone’s been turned off. (Want to make a bet on whether it’s one of those throw-away ones to begin with.)

Although I’m probably too long in the tooth (and aged in the kidney) to be a donor, I can actually envision the circumstances under which I would surrender on of my kidneys. I’m nowhere near noble enough to give one up for a stranger, but I can certainly imagine doing so for friends and family. Admittedly, I’d have mixed feelings about it, and would likely harbor some secret hope that I wouldn’t be a match, but could still get the brownie points for making the offer. But if someone I loved needed a kidney, if I could save their life, I would certainly hope that I’d be willing to go under the knife.

But for an iPad 2?

I mean, maybe for an iPhone, plus a Mac, plus an iPad 2, plus an iPod, with guarantees for at least ten years worth of annual upgrades.

But for an iPad 2?

Oh, to be a Chinese teenager now that iPad 2’s in the air.

And they said that Harley-Davidson customers who are willing to get tattooed with their product’s name are the world’s most brand loyal consumers…

The article noted that they didn’t know whether the kid had gotten his iPad 2.

You’d think that Apple would come through for the kid, wouldn’t you? Although they no doubt wouldn’t want to set off a wave of similar organ barters.

Selling a kidney – risking your life – for an iPad 2?

Does this kid realize he can’t sell his other kidney for the iPad 3 he’s going to want tomorrow…

All I want to do is point to that kid’s head and say, kidneys, man, kidneys.


Ellen B. said...

Kidneys! Thought that joke was only alive and well in our house.

SparkDustJoe said...

Wow, I heard my grandfather tell that "Kidneys *tap* *tap*" joke, but all I could remember was the punchline (which is what I Google'd to find your blog!).