Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Transplant Zeros - Part 1

Today, in "Transplant Heroes and Zeros", we'll talk about a zero - Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. Yeah, yeah, I know that in the Spring of 2006 he signed into law the bill that created the Tennessee Donor Registry - a good thing as over 1 million Tennesseans are registered to be organ and tissue donors. However, in the fall of 2008, he made a blasphemous PSA that dishonored organ donors and their families. Hence, he gets the "zero" today.

If you had the misfortune of seeing this PSA, you undoubtly formed your own opinion. Out of respect for donor families, I will not stoop to the level of the "good" Governor by running a copy of this PSA here. The PSA was titled "Harvest" which itself is a blunder. The proper term is "recover." Maybe the Governor should hire staff that actually does their homework and attempt to make sure he looks like he knows what he is talking about whether he actually does or not.

The PSA was part of a series in the Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO) "Booze It and Lose It" Program. Usually the PSA's have been professional and well done. However, this one told the story of a teenager who was tragically killed by a drunk driver and was an organ donor. The PSA showed an operating room, medical staff conducting a recovery, and then one of them leaving with the recovered organ(s). The first time I saw it was on October 26, 2008 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Atlanta. I was angry because it seemed to be inferring one of 3 things : 1) drunk drivers cause people to be organ donors, 2) the penalty for drunk driving is organ donation, or 3) organ donors are the collateral damage of drunk drivers. Whichever way you look at it, it is an insensitive and reprehensible PSA that should never have been aired. Organ donation, a wonderful and unselfish gift, should never, never be associated with the senseless, selfish, life-destroying act of drunk driving. The following day, I e-mailed Governor Bredesen expressing my outrage asking him to do three things : 1) pull the PSA immediately never to be aired again, 2) destroy all media it was recorded on, and 3) issue an immediate apology to the all the donor families across the state of Tennessee. Besides myself, several other organ recipients and their families, donor families, and others e-mailed, called, and wrote letters to members of the GHSO staff and Bredesen himself. The responses we received said the Governor and the GHSO were proud of the "Booze It and Lose It" PSA's and did not intend to pull this one because not enough people had complained. Then, they proceeded to air the PSA again during NASCAR coverage on November 2, 2008 and November 16th as well as at other sporting events in Tennessee. Apparently, dishonoring Tennessee's donor families once was not enough as the PSA aired numerous times after they were called on it. The numbers of transplant recipients and donor families across Tennessee is not very large. We could be considered a minority. Anybody wanna bet how quickly Mr. Bredesen would have pulled the PSA if he had offended some other minority group and they had complained ?? Quicker than Ted Kennedy can down a shot of whiskey ....... quicker than Nancy Pelosi can say the CIA lied ....... quicker than Mr. Obama can blame George Bush - anyway, you get the idea. It would be pretty darn quick.

Mr. Bredesen's starring role in this horrible PSA degraded the life-saving gifts that scores of donors and their families have given across the great state of Tennessee and the U.S. The wonderful gifts they have given me and many others have allowed us a second chance to enjoy life. I expect better from a public official. Bredesen has had ample opportunity to make this right. He has even been encouraged to make another PSA that honors donors and their families for being heroes. Unfortunately, he arrogantly has chosen to do nothing. Would you believe that he was rumored to be Mr. Obama's choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services shortly after this all took place ?? Fortunately, he was not selected. However, I sincerely hope that when Mr. Bredesen's current term as Tennessee Governor concludes, his political career is done. I know that if he does decide to run for an office again, I will work diligently to help his opponent defeat him. You can take that to the bank.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is he even in office ??