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  • Tom Boyd


I knew a man named Fred. He lived an ordinary life with a normal wife and normal kids. He worked his county job 9-5, went to church on Sunday, raised his kids and became well versed in being a “couch potato” once his kids left home. A kind harmless man with little ambition and even less money.

One day he almost died of a heart attack. The Leland Stanford Junior University Medical Center gave him a new heart, a transplant of the heart of a 14 year old boy who had died in an accident. It saved Fred’s life. The cost was over $250,000 and it was wonderful that it was done at very little cost to him.

I remember thinking what great things he must be planning on doing now that he has been given a second heart, a second life, a second chance. Naïve of me.

He was a 5 by 5 (height and grid) and lost 50 of his 250 pounds. He slowly gained it back and more becoming once again a couch potato. He could have lived longer had he been more active and changed his life style and eating habits.

Was the heart transplant a waste of resources and money? All lives matter. Should the university hospital have counseled him on the possibilities of serving his community, helping others, and teaching him communication skills and confidence to do so? Did Fred have an obligation to society for the gift of life? Would you have lived differently were you Fred?

I think about Fred as I deal with having lost a kidney to cancer and having the other kidney watched. What would I do if a 14-year-old boy or anyone gave me his kidney?

“No such thing as easy answers

You play to win

And you take your chances

Just another ordinary man

Here’s to health, here’s to wealth

May you never doubt yourself

Just another ordinary man

Ordinary man”

Song: Ordinary Man

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