Friday, May 13, 2011

I Hope This Is Never Me

Yesterday the Jewish Medical/Dental Society held a donor drive for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. A donor drive consists of merely entering people into the universal bone marrow registry by taking a cheek swab. Once in the registry, you remain there until age 60 and usually never hear from them again. If, however, you are a match to a person in need, the foundation would call you to let you know and ask that you donate bone marrow, an obviously much more involved process than just a cheek swab.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to not want to become part of the registry. The Gift of Life representative impressed upon us the importance of not cajoling people to register. It is much better for someone who is uncomfortable with the idea of donating to say no now rather than down the road when there is a specific person whose life relies upon the registered donor saying yes and whose hopes have been raised that a match was found.

A third year medical student seemed unconvinced as she walked by our table but asked for more information. When we brought up the point that she could potentially be saving a life by registering, her brusque response was, "I already saved some lives today, that's enough for me." And she walked away.

Registering is a very personal decision and is potentially a large commitment in the future - I want to reiterate that I'm not faulting anyone for not signing up. But this particular girl's reasoning didn't sit right with me. It makes me think there's a quota to helping people as a doctor: "Good job team, it's 3 pm and we already saved ten people today, so let's pack it up and head home." Or that it's like buying carbon credits ahead of time to make up for future bad behavior (or like the church selling indulgences back in the day): "As a doctor, I already help people all day, so why do I need to do more good outside of the work place?"

This is not necessarily about Gift of Life or the bone marrow registry, but more about this student's attitude and my hope that I never feel the way this student does - that doing good in one aspect of your life precludes you from doing good in other aspects.

For more information, visit
To become a donor (through the internet! so easy!), click here

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree...I think as a doctor, you're always fighting an uphill battle. there's so many lives you CAN'T save no matter how hard you try. Why not add one more to the list when you don't have to try very hard at all?

    I think if at the tender age of 3rd year, you feel like "Ok. I've done enough" I think it's going to be a very rough rest of your life.