2014 TTS Presidential Address
July 29, 2014 - San Francisco, USA
This is a picture of the earth taken from the moon that we all recognize of course. This picture was enabled by a hero for me in the time of my youth, who said:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things,
not because they are easy, but because they are hard;
because that goal will serve to organize and measure —
the best of our energies and skills;
because that challenge is
- one that we are willing to accept,
- one we are unwilling to postpone,
- and one — which we intend to win.”
Space and the moon was a beckoning frontier; done with urgency and yet a plausibility; traveling to the moon became part of the pioneering heritage of mankind.
Organ donation and transplantation are also part of the pioneering heritage of mankind; but should be still for us now a beckoning frontier.
We seem to have concluded that as a field we have come to a limit of scientific innovation, the empty pipeline of new immunosuppression, the inability to transplant organs from pigs, the limited experience of tolerance.
These are realities evident in the program of this Congress. But as a field of endeavor we have not prioritized the needed scientific innovation in deceased organ donation. The work of organ donation — just as going to the moon — is hard but it also can organize and measure the best of us as a humanity. The work of organ donation remains our beckoning frontier and now it must be successfully achieved — the same as going to the moon — with an urgency and plausibility.
Might we commit ourselves today, that before this decade is done, we will see organs regularly transplanted from those who have died, with those organs known to be repaired before they are transplanted.
That task before us is clear and that task remains a beckoning frontier. We must increase organs from the deceased to make them suitable and available for transplantation.
Meanwhile, this pioneering heritage of transplantation has been achieved by a common humanity. A common humanity seen from the moon is collectively who we all are.
The transplant of a heart from a Palestinian works just as well in an Israeli as it does in a Palestinian. What is evident looking at us while standing on the moon is that we are a common humanity. Should a Catholic from Dublin refuse a kidney transplant from a Protestant in Northern Ireland because the donor is Protestant? And what of the Sunnis in the Gulf, would they refuse a liver transplant from a Shiʽite from Shiraz? The genocide of the Balkans — would a Serbian soldier from Belgrade refuse a kidney from woman in Tuzla, Bosnia? Could not the life of a member of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda be saved by an organ transplant from a Tutsi, recalling a decade ago, more than 500,000 died within a few months, just because they were Tutsi?
Can we not see by standing on the moon, that successful organ transplantation exposes the stupidity of cultural righteousness. Indeed, if we look upon ourselves from the moon our sameness should be evident by the biological success of organ transplantation.
Yes, we have cultural identity but it is not what makes us different, it is what makes us the same, that enables organ donation and transplantation to succeed.
For those of us gathered here today, is there not a wake-up call needed to our own cultures regarding the biological truth of our sameness, that is so evident looking upon us from the moon. The success of transplantation dispels the error of cultural and nationalistic contentions that would claim cultural superiority.
Our sameness also brings forward another aspect of our common humanity: what becomes evident from the moon is our common uniqueness, evolved to be what make us human. We are aware, we are conscious with the capacity to choose, and to create. Being human brings forth a natural/intrinsic/human desire to be of help for others; that nobility, that goodness is the unique trait of our humanity that spans all cultures. We risk our life to save the life of someone drowning that we may not even know.
Organ donation and transplantation is also a testimony of that goodness that spans all cultures and identifies us as human — the anonymous organ donor.
So what of this humanity as we look upon ourselves from the moon. To me it engenders an accountability, a responsibility — that we can transplant organs is a microcosm of the order of our humanity. There is order to our being human, but the order of our function also exposes and can be contrasted to what has become the disorder of us as a common humanity.
Cultural righteousness, cultural superiority engenders the disorder of social injustice — a social exclusion — of whom may receive and who should donate the successful organ transplant because it overlooks as seen from the moon that we are a common humanity.
Is the Declaration of Istanbul not the Emancipation Proclamation of our time? It says: if you can be a donor then social justice should hold us all accountable for that same person to be a recipient whether white or black or occidental or oriental or Christian or Buddhist or Muslim or Jew.
Let it be said by those that come after us that we had a responsibility to our common humanity to promulgate transplantation as fundamental truth of our existence and thus act in keeping with that self-evident truth. No culture can claim its disavowal of donation and then be so hypocritically accepting as a recipient of the transplantation benefit. If you can be a donor then you should be able to be a recipient, if you can be a recipient than there should be no objection for you to be a donor.
Our challenge is to make transplantable organs available from the deceased to those in need, not because they are certain class or culture, but because they are our fellow and common man in need of our help. As evident from the moon, our field of endeavor is not done, our heritage is not completed until that goal is realized and until a plentiful supply of organs from the deceased are available for transplantation.
My time as President is now concluded. For those who are to follow, please heed this request to look upon what you do with your eye looking upon all of us from the moon to see our common humanity and then to be inspired as I was by the words of another hero from our heritage:
“Some people see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that never were and say why not”