Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Organ Grind

Our State Lawmakers Belong On A Brain Transplant List.

By Jeff Smith

MAY 17, 1999:  ARIZONA IS connected to New Mexico, California, Utah, Sonora, and marginally to Colorado, Baja California Norte, and Chihuahua. Via these conduits our state also is linked to the remainder of North, Central and South America.

Though the lines are less concrete, the Grand Canyon State has ties to the entire planet, all its lands and peoples, cultures, politics, needs and gifts to offer in return.

Yessiree, Bob, the knee bone truly is connected to the thigh bone: we are one world, a great big ol' Coca Cola commercial.

So how come the Arizona Legislature passes this law that says donor organs from Arizona dead bodies have to go to patients in need of spare parts here within our arbitrary boundaries, before someone, say, in Truth or Consequences (who might need a good used liver a whole lot worse), gets a crack at it?

And it's not just the meat market that arbitrarily sets Arizona apart from the rest of our nation and our world, it's this sort of prevailing and pervasive attitude of insularity. At its worst it puts me in mind of the states' right mentality that led us into what the Confederacy still calls The War of Northern Aggression. The Civil War.

Now I will readily admit that some of the starry-eyed universalist dreams of my youth have yielded to a more community-based ethos on human intercourse, but that does not mean I've gone isolationist. "Think globally, act locally" makes a lot of sense. And persons of sensibility need to give serious thought to each and every problem they confront, to decide precisely what is the most appropriate precinct in which to apply a solution.

By this I mean there are some issues that demand policies and actions no broader in scope than couples, families, neighborhoods. Other issues are more general and fittingly apply to, say, school districts, cities, counties or states.

Some matters, such as defense, transportation, health care and education, cry out for consistent nationwide policy and policing of standards. The organ-donor thing fits the national model, and truth to tell, if this NAFTA thing is worth a damn, we probably ought to be able to demonstrate its utility by trucking Canadian pancreases and Mexican kidneys to swap with U.S. internals. For the simple reason that we have the technology, as they said on The Six-Million Dollar Man. And what could be more apropos? Sometimes my wit astounds even me.

But seriously, new national regulations pertaining to organ donor systems will, by law, supersede the various state systems and laws, some of which--like Arizona's--presume to have priority over federal requirements. It simply makes no sense, practically, politically or constitutionally, for Arizona's legislators who persevere in this bone-head attitude that nobody in Washington is going to tell us what to do, even if it makes sense.

And it does make sense that available donor organs should go wherever they can be delivered on time, solely on the basis of need. Meaning to whomever needs the organ most, has the least time to live without a transplant, has been on the list longest. Political boundaries and partisan pissing contests have no business here. And it has been brought to the attention of our Legislature, unfortunately without apparent effect, that ofttimes Arizona patients are transported out-of-state to more specialized medical facilities for treatment there and to await donor organs. By giving first priority to in-state patients for in-state giblets, our new law may cut native sons and daughters trucked to out-of-state hospitals out of their helping of stuffing, so to speak. And conversely, some Californian might get air-lifted from L.A. to UMC to await a heart transplant by our own redoubtable Dr. Jack Copeland, and ace-out an Arizonan.

Doesn't this all sound a trifle silly? Well, hell yes, and it should. We're all tax-paying Americans, living in an information and transportation network that functions, in this particular instance, essentially on a national basis. We all, Arizonans and whatever, will benefit by national cooperation on the basis of need.

We ought to repeal our own stupid law, before the feds and the U.S. Constitution force it on us. At considerable mutual expense, one might add.

Oh, and the same logic applies to the Clean Air Act, another of those global issues where Arizona seems hell-bent both on acting and thinking with no consideration beyond narrow local bounds.


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