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On books, on publicity, on transplants.

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After the book launch on Thursday  I thought things might slow down some, but no, no and thrice no.  As well as floundering under the yoke of re-writes and the new novel, I am trying my best to be available for all and every piece of publicity that comes my way, not my natural state I must say, but so necessary. The window of publicity for a new book is very small, it would be daft to waste it.

On Thursday morning I will appear on TV3 ( 8.05 am ) to chat about the new book Blood Money, on Saturday I am heading to Waterford to attend the Sean Dunne Festival, back home late that evening and I think I will take Sunday off before I roll up my sleeves and fling myself straight back into it.

I want to include my press release on Blood Money. As many of you know the subject matter is close to my heart. But here is what I wrote.

“The waiting list for organ transplantation is a frightening place to be. Time, opportunity, availability, compatibility, chance, all these things must be in place to receive the life saving gift of a transplant. If you are one of the lucky ones, your life will be changed dramatically, you can begin to look to the future once more. It must be terrifying and exhilarating to be released from the agony of waiting, even as you recognise the road to recovery may be long and also fraught with problems.
But for many people the list is too much, the idea of waiting too risky and uncertain.  I understand the fear, I do. My father in law is the recipient of a heart transplant, he got his new heart over a decade ago, but I remember vividly the anxiety as his family waited to see if a donor was available, then if that heart was a match, and finally how would this wonderful man recover from such an invasive surgery.

A total of 172 kidneys were transplanted in Ireland last year. There are 580 people awaiting kidney transplants and 25 awaiting pancreases. Baring this in mind, how then can Irish kidneys be ‘given’ to the UK? That’s right, according to the Tribune, a ‘shortage of beds in Beaumont Hospital; meant viable donated kidneys were ‘given away’.

http://www.tribune.ie/news/article/2010/feb/14/exclusive-irish-donor-kidneys-sent-abroad-due-to-b/

When I read article I was in shock. I thought of the people on dialysis up and down the country, whose lives were on hold, waiting, hoping, praying for a new organ. Holding on for a chance at a new life. I felt rage on their behalf, rage and disbelief. How could this happen?
Is it really so difficult to think that a person, let down by the system, might look further afield to protect their health and ultimately their life?

Blood Money is a work of fiction. But the story line is not far removed from the realms of possibility. All over the world people with means will and do whatever is necessary to  stay alive, to safeguard their health. They  will circumnavigate the law. They will step over moral and ethical quagmires. Transplant tourism is very real. It exists. The human body is an easily traded commodity. Greed, as always, is a mitigating factor.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2009/02/18/china_investigating_illegal_transplants_for_17_japanese_tourists/

http://www.interpol.int/public/News/2008/IndiaTransplants20080218.asp

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-08/13/content_8562872.htm

http://www.imtjonline.com/news/?EntryId82=140663

http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc03/edoc9822.htm

Where there is money to made there will alway be those ready to profit from it. Transplantation for gangs is a phenomenal business. The donor is paid a pittance, the recipient will pay a fortune, the middle men, the agents, the facilitators, those are the hyenas scouring the medical plains, waiting to descend to carve up the rest of the carcass.
It could be argued that people have a right to do with their body as they see fit, but this is entirely subjective. The balance of power is so great between the haves and the have-nots, the exploitation so vast, that  illegal organ transplantation cannot be viewed as anything other than a crime of enormous moral failing.

What of the poor man who survives on next to nothing? He gets money for his organ, but then what? If there are complications can he afford medicine? Can he afford healthcare that may last a life time? Does it even exist where he comes from?  Can he return to his life with his pittance and not suffer?  What of us, the wealthy Western? Do we have , due to fortune of birth, the right to carve our fellow man for the bits and pieces we need? Are we okay with this? Or the Doctors who will play god with the lives of the most vulnerable to enhance the lives of the privileged? How can we excuse this? How can we tolerate it? We can’t. Right?
But then we have the luxury of not knowing what is like to wait on a list for a donor to appear, one that will magically fit all criteria. I have no idea what that must be like. I have no wish to ever know.

Blood Money deals with those who do know, who will step over the legal and moral line to stay alive. It deals with the fallout of illegal organisations, of the vultures who will take and take and take. I hope it is an entertaining read, it is after all a detective novel, but also I would like it to throw up questions.
And finally I would hope that it would make one thing very clear. Without lecturing or hectoring, please, carry a donor card. My father in law is still with us today owing to the grace and compassion of his donor and that donor’s family. Their tragic loss became our gain. I hope someday I can do the same for another family. Carry a card, get one today. You may save a life with this one simple action, maybe more than one. And what a magnificent gift that is.”

Arlene Hunt (2010)

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About the Author:

Arlene Hunt is the author of 7 novels. The latest, 'The Chosen', is published in paperback and ebook by Portnoy Publishing.

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