Thursday, April 25, 2013

Funny, You Don't Look (Barnes) Jewish

I have a deep, abiding affection for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. I imagine I always will. It's hard for me not to think of that sprawling medical complex in the shadow of the Gateway Arch as the place that saved my life.

B-J was, and still is, my kidney transplant center. My wife and I chose it over hospitals in Chicago and other cities for many reasons: its sterling reputation and record for successful transplants primarily, but also because we figured it would be easier and cheaper to get in and out of St. Louis for our many medical appointments and eventual surgery. And, although this is impossible to quantify, we thought the people in the St.L might be nicer and more accommodating as well.

Dr. Jason Wellen, right, and Happy Patient
Like I said, we can't tell if that's true for certain. But after our experience there, we suspect it might be. Surely Dr. Jason Wellen, the Barnes-Jewish surgeon who performed my operation,
is the kind of standup guy you'd love to have a beer with – if, of course, you could drink beer right after having a transplant.

So when Barnes-Jewish senior media relations coordinator Anne Bassett and her department asked me if I would contribute a guest blog to the hospital's website in honor of April as National Donate Life Month, what was I going to say? "Hold up, let me think about it?"

I don't know if other transplant recipients are as passionate about increasing the ranks of organ donors as I've become, but by the same token I can't imagine how they couldn't be. A successful transplant is more than even the "gift of life:" it's a life utterly reborn.

And like I say in my post on the Barnes-Jewish website, which I do hope you'll read by clicking here, it's a cause I feel so strongly about – especially for people of color – that I was willing to endure frostbite and the potential loss of body parts earlier this month to sign up potential donors.

My sincere thanks to Anne Bassett and all the extraordinary people at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for the opportunity to invade their online space. They may be residents of the heartland, but they do mighty fine with other organs, too.