Jun 13, 2022

Trying Not to Join the Transplant Revolution

A New Scientist article hails the return of pig livers to medical menus

By Ed Goldman

Our director of scientific research here at The Goldman State, Ken Eubie Leavitt, sent me a memo yesterday that made up for in enthusiasm what it may have lacked in depth, which perfectly fits this company’s culture.

While Ken tends to think “acne” is just another word for “breakthrough”—his teen years were apparently troubled—I’ve kept him on staff to balance the views of the column’s in-house skeptic, Ono Nottagin. Ono maintains that our planet’s only a few hundred years old, despite the findings of carbon dating, the discovery of fossils and the existence of Joe Biden.

“Porqué, Señor?”

Anyway, I’m sharing the memo Ken sent me to give you an idea of the respect and collaboration that goes on here at the home office.

“Dear Stupid:

“My issue of New Scientist just arrived, delivered by a mail carrier who doesn’t ring even once. One of the main articles is called ‘The Transplant Revolution’ and I plunged right into it, expecting some insight into your dubious hairline.

“But this was instead about the progress that’s been made with life-saving organ transplantation, which I soon learned wasn’t about moving a Wurlitzer from one’s bedroom into one’s living room (LOL).

“Some staggering facts follow, along with my breaking them down so even a chickpea mind like yours can absorb them. I was going to say adsorb them but didn’t want you to hurt your thumbs looking up the difference between ‘adsorb’ and ‘absorb.’ To save time, for now just go with ‘They’re spelled differently.’ That ought to prevent your getting a headache, you pre-school drop-out.

“To quote from New Scientist: ‘…(I)n January, a pig heart was transplanted into 57-year-old David Bennett, who is said to be slowly recovering with no signs of organ rejection by his body.’

“Sounds great, doesn’t it, Mister Mind-Dead? But here’s how I’d have written the rest of the story: ‘Bennett does, however, exhibit an intense new interest in mud-bathing and corn-on-the-cob consumption.’

“A stand-alone sentence in the article also caught my jaundiced eye: ‘There is no doubting the need for more organs.’ Really? With church attendance off by more than seven percent since 2000? Who needs more organs? We need more sinners (LOL 2.0)!

“Then the article goes all Darwinian on us, reporting that in 1963, chimpanzee kidneys were ‘transplanted into 13 people. One survive(d) for nine months.’ Question: How did that chimp survive without kidneys? You may be afraid to ask the tough questions, Dopey, but I’m not!

“Meanwhile, that same year, ‘Baboon kidneys (were) transplanted into six people, but none of the recipients survive(d) more than three months.’ Interestingly, before the baboons died, a big one was seen combing his auburn hair by the light of the moon. (Didn’t know I went to the animal fair, didja?!)”

Ken’s memo then quotes the article’s recounting when, in 1997, some countries stopped doing xenotransplantation (putting non-human organs into people) “because of fears that porcine retroviruses could infect people.” 

“Now I ask you, as a pseudo-journalist,” he wrote, “shouldn’t retroviruses have the right to sue New Scientist for libel? I mean, even if they’re a little out of shape, is it nice to label them ‘porcine?’ How would that make you feel, especially if you’d been hoping to find a human host in the next few weeks? People have become so insensitive; don’t you agree you Numb Neuron?”

Oh, but I do. Accordingly, I’ll write back and ask Ken if his “breakthrough” ever cleared up.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).