Thursday, March 29, 2012

Transplants and Knuckleheads

Last Saturday, former Vice-President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant after spending nearly two years on the waiting list. Cheney's original heart had been severely damaged by multiple heart attacks leading to him receiving an AICD, or automatic inplantable cardioverter defibrillator, several years ago. An AICD is a device that regulates a heart disease patient's heart rythym. It can deliver a shock to a patient's heart if they suffer a severe, life-threatening, abnormal heart rythym. Unfortunately, I know about them all to well having carried one around in my chest for nearly seven years leading up to my heart transplant. Cheney and I now have two things in common - we've both had AICDs and heart transplants.

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States.
Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During the course of the last week, I've read multiple articles, news reports, and opinion pieces on the internet concerning Cheney's transplant. Many of them have been ugly, mean-spirited, and spewn hatred at Cheney because he received a "second chance" at life. Others have offered encouragement and congratulations to Cheney and his family. I join the rank of this group in congratulating V-P Cheney and offering my best wishes and prayers for a quick and complete recovery. Cheney is a blessed man getting to spend more time with his wife, kids, and grandkids, as well as having more time to enjoy his hobbies. While I haven't always agreed with Mr. Cheney politically, I am truly happy for him. I hope he makes the most of his new life.

Cheney's transplant has spurned a new conversation about organ and tissue donation and transplants in this country. To be honest, I think that's a good thing. More press breeds more awareness. Awareness is good. It seems that the discussion is revolving around three main points :
  1. Should Cheney, at 71 years-old, have been given a transplant due to the fact that donated organs are so scarce ?
  2. Shouldn't the heart Cheney received have gone to a younger person more likely to get the most out of this scarce resource because they would likely live longer ?
  3. Was Cheney given special consideration because of his wealth, reputation, and position ?
After watching, hearing, and reading what all the pundits and others have said for the last week, I decided it's time for The Sheepdog to weigh in on the subject. Some are gonna agree with me, and some are gonna be as mad as a hornet. Then again, isn't that a normal everyday occurrence here on The Sheepdog ? Why should today be any different ? Right ?

I'll deal with the first and second point concurrently. The answer to whether Cheney should have been given a heart transplant at his age is a resounding, "Yes !" Why shouldn't he be ? If he was the best match for that heart, and was the next in line for it, then absolutely he should get it. He had done his time on the list - nearly two years ! As far as the argument that it should have gone to a younger person, there are two things wrong with that argument. First, it's age discrimination. The U.S. has made great strides in ending discrimination over the years. Age discrimination is prohibited in employment practices and other things, why would we want to take a step backwards and allow it in organ transplants ? Furthermore, there's no guarantee that a younger person would get more "mileage" out of the donated heart than Cheney. Transplants can be delicate and tricky. Great strides have been made in transplant medicine, but sometimes patients still die shortly after transplant. In fact, the latest statistics show that only 3 out of every 4 heart recipients reach their 5-year transplant anniversary. There are no guarantees. Personally, I think the odds are good that Cheney will get several good years out of his new heart. As a former Vice-President, you know he's gonna get some of the best medical care in the country. In addition, someone else might not have taken care of themselves and the new heart not last as long as with Cheney. Who knows ?

Another point that has been ingrained in this whole age issue is the fact that some believe that a younger person's life is more valuable than that of someone older. It's an idea that has been around for years and years that in my opinion is immoral. All life is extremely valuable. None is more valuable than any other. How do you even value a person's life anyway ? What amount of money does is take to bring someone back from the dead ? Give me a number. C'mon. Try. The fact is you can't put a price on human life. It's priceless. No amount of money can create it, and no amount of money can save it. The other question I'd ask these folks is, what if Cheney were your father or grandfather ? You'd want him to receive that new heart then. Wouldn't ya ?

The third point / question that has been asked and discussed is whether or not Cheney received special consideration because of his wealth and who he is. The answer is a resounding, "NO !" Think about it for a moment. It's simple. If wealth, power, and position had much influence on whether a person receives an organ transplant or not, do you really think Cheney would have waited nearly two years for a life-saving heart transplant ? The answer is no. If wealth and position was a large contributing factor to who does or does not receive an organ transplant, Cheney would have received one very shortly after he was listed. Furthermore, I'd be dead because I wouldn't have received my transplant due to having no wealth or powerful position. C'mon man. Don't be a knucklehead - it's just common sense.

There is a simple solution to all the questions and discussion about whether V-P Cheney should have received a heart transplant. The questions only exist because donated organs are scarce. If all Americans would register as organ and tissue donors, not only would Americans stop dying while on the waiting list, but we would have enough donated organs and tissues to go around, and it wouldn't matter if you were 71 or 21, the donor organ you needed would be available when you needed it.

So, the next time you hear someone talking about Cheney's heart transplant and whether an "old man" should receive one, ask them this, "Are you registered as an organ and tissue donor ?" If they say yes, thank them for doing so. However, if they say no, then tell them it's like voting - if you don't do it, then you have no right to complain. If everyone would register, more lives would be saved, and we wouldn't have to have the discussion about who should or shouldn't get a transplant.

In the meantime, keep V-P Cheney, his family, and his donor family in your prayers. They've all got a long road ahead of them.
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Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Metal Monday and "You've Got Another Thing Comin' "

Last week was kinda stressful, because The Sheepdog's got a lot of stuff going on right now. I spent the weekend having a little fun, relaxing, and doing some of the things I enjoy.

As I mentioned in last Friday's post, I did indeed go to the gun show in Hendersonville, TN on Saturday to get out of the house for a while and look at some "toys." There were some really nice "toys" there, too. On the way home, I was listening to 105.9 FM The Rock, the main rock station in Nashville, TN, when they played Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Comin'." I thought, "I haven't shown a Priest video on Music Monday yet. This would be the perfect song for the coming week."

So, without further delay, it's a Metal Monday here on The Sheepdog and it's time for the video. You can watch it by clicking here, or it's embedded below in this blog post. The song was on Judas Priest's 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance. Enjoy. If you're at work watching and listening, crank this sucker up so the whole office can enjoy and start the week off right with a dose of Judas Priest.

It'll be good for 'em. Trust me - I'm a Sheepdog.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Firearms Freedom Friday

It's been a while since The Sheepdog said anything about guns. Since they are one of my favorite subjects, I figured today was as good a time as any. Therefore, I'm declaring today a "Firearms Freedom Friday." Heck, I'm thinking I might even go to the gun show tomorrow and the range this weekend.

I first saw the following in one of Glenn Beck's e-mail newsletters a few weeks ago and thought it was worth sharing with those who might have missed it. recently bestowed a very prestigious award upon Mr. Obama. They named him "The Greatest Gun Salesman in America." To make the case for giving him the award, they put together the graphic below.

The Greatest Gun Salesman In America: President Barack Obama [INFOGRAPHIC]

So, what do all these statistics tell us ? Well, in my opinion, even though Obama has overall been a total failure, he's accomplished at least one positive thing during his first term - he's stimulated the firearms and ammo industries and they haven't needed a bailout. Good job O.

If you'd like to see the original infographic and read the full article on just click here.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Music Monday with The Scorpions

No One Like You

Scorpions | Myspace Music Videos

I decided to stay within the genre of metal this week and follow up last week's double shot of Skillet with a song and video from The Scorpions. The video I chose for today is the band's single "No One Like You" from their 1982 album Blackout. "No One Like You" was a popular song for The Scorpions reaching number one on Billboard's U.S. Rock Track's Chart.

Enjoy the video. I've embedded it in this post and it can also be watched by clicking here.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Coffee Hurts

I was eating lunch and drinking my coffee with my neighbor and his 6-year-old son when I asked the kid, "What is the 20th of February?"

He said "President's Day!"

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 6:  U.S. President Bara...
Image by Getty Images via @dayli
He is a smart kid, so, I asked him, "What does President's Day mean?" I was waiting for something about Washington or Lincoln etc.

He replied, "President's Day is when President Obama steps out of the White House, and if he sees his shadow, we have one more year of unemployment."

You know, it really hurts when hot coffee spurts out your nose.
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Monday, March 12, 2012

A Double Shot of Skillet on Music Monday

Last night I had the opportunity to see Skillet in concert for the second time. They are the headliner in this year's Winter Jam Tour, which highlights a number of different Christian artists. If you are a fan of Christian Rock Music, and hard rock and heavy metal in general, this is a band you need to go see in concert at your first opportunity. They are becoming one of my favorite bands.

One thing that is neat about Skillet's music is how it connects with youth. The band sings about many of the issues and problems that today's youth deal with. It allows them to minister to and encourage young people in a way that very few can. Skillet's hard rock / heavy metal style of music also gives them opportunities to connect with and minister to people who otherwise would not listen to Christian music. They are filling a much needed musical niche.

In honor of the show last night, and since this is the seecond Monday of March, today's Music Monday is a double shot of Skillet. Video #1 is of their song "The Older I Get" from their album Comatose released in 2006. It is embedded below and can also be watched by clicking here.

Video #2 is from Skillet's album Awake released in 2009 and is titled "Monster." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

To learn more about Skillet and their music, please visit
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wanna make a differnce ?

If so, the information below may be your opportunity. A friend of mine recently learned of Joel Beeson. He is currently awaiting a life-saving liver transplant due to a genetic bleeding disorder. Recently, Joel was ready to proceed with a living-donor liver transplant from his brother until his transplant center changed the age requirements making his brother no longer a candidate.

I can't imagine how heart-breaking that was for Joel and his family. So when I learned about Joel's story, I felt compelled to share it. After receiving my life-saving heart transplant five years ago, I believe the Lord has set me on a mission to do everything I can to help others needing transplants get the same "second chance" this Sheepdog got.

Below (in blue), I have included some information from the Facebook page that has been set up to get the word out about Joel's situation. To read more on the Facebook page, or to drop him a note of encouragement, just visit this link - In addition, if you are interested in helping, Joel can be contacted at this e-mail address -

Help us find a liver for Joel!

Our friend, Joel Beeson, is on a liver transplant list due to complications from a genetic bleeding disorder.

We were set to proceed with a living donor transplant from his brother, who was a perfect candidate, when the transplant center changed the age limit guidelines, and now his brother is no longer a donor option.

Other members of our family either have the wrong blood type or are out of the age range. We are now reaching out to our community to seek a potential living donor candidate.

The criteria for a living donor are the following:
  • Good Health
  • Type O (doesn’t matter if – or +)
  • Between 18 and 55 years old
  • Similar Size to Recipient, or larger (Joel is 5’11”, 180 lbs.)
Additional info from the Cleveland Clinic:

The Donor:
  • Must not be pregnant.
  • Should not have any major medical or psychiatric problems, including dependence on drugs or alcohol.
  • Must understand the risks of the surgery and follow instructions for short and long-term care after the donation.
  • Does not need to be a blood relative of the recipient; spouses, friends, and even total strangers can donate part of their liver. The success rates are the same whether the donor is related or unrelated.

A liver for transplantation is usually obtained from a deceased (dead) donor. However the sad statistics are that 80% of patients waiting for a cadaver liver die on the waiting list or become too sick to have a transplant during the waiting process.

Because of the complications of Joel’s bleeding disorder, he is at high risk of not surviving the wait on the list, and further complicating matters, Type O is the universal donor, so Type O livers are scarce and these patients must wait the longest. A living donor is a valuable alternative that helps save lives.

In a living donor liver transplantation, a piece of a healthy person’s liver is removed through surgery and transplanted into a recipient immediately after the recipient’s entire liver has been removed. Living donor liver transplantation is possible with only a piece of the liver because the liver has the ability to regrow. This process is referred to as “regeneration.” Regeneration of the liver happens over a very short period; it begins within days and is usually complete in 6 to 8 weeks. So, when surgeons remove a piece of the donor’s liver, the part that remains in the donor regenerates to nearly its normal size. In a similar way, the portion of the liver that is given to the recipient also experiences regeneration.

We are very fortunate that we have excellent insurance that covers the cost of living donor transplantation for the donor and the recipient. Our insurance also covers the testing and evaluation of up to 5 potential living donors to determine best candidates.

It is not an easy thing to reach out to people on such a personal matter. But when a loved ones life is at stake, you’ll do whatever it takes.

Please help us share this request to reach as many people as possible, and please, if you are a potential candidate, or know a potential candidate, help save his life.

Thank you so much.
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Music Monday in the "Land of Confusion"

As promised in last Monday's post, I've put together a special Music Monday for today. Actually, "special" may not really be the right word. I really just wanted have a little fun today and take a poke or two at some folks.

As we all know, tomorrow is "Super Tuesday" with GOP Presidential Primaries being held in ten states, including my home state of Tennessee. In my opinion, the 2012 GOP Presidential Candidates are the worst crop of my lifetime. Each one of them claims to be a so-called "Conservative" but their records tell a different story. For instance :
  • Mitt Romney - He claims to be a conservative despite signing multiple tax and fee increases into law, signing restrictive gun controls into law, and creating RomneyCare which ObamaCare was modeled after while governor of Massachusetts. He first supported abortion only changing his stance to pro-life when he began considering a run for the presidency. Romney is no conservative no matter how hard he tries to paint himself as one.
  • Newt Gingrich - He had not one, but two marriages fail due to cheating on his wives. He supported various gun control measures while in Congress. He's on record as supporting the individual mandate in ObamaCare, and he made millions lobbying on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He's no conservative, either.
  • Rick Santorum - He loves big government and hasn't seen an earmark or spending bill he didn't like. His record on the 2nd Amendment is sketchy at best. It's hard to put the conservative label on Santorum either.
  • Ron Paul - I could support Ron Paul except for one thing - his nutty foreign policy views. His opinion is that it's the U.S.'s fault that our enemies don't like us. Sorry Ron, but that's not the case. They don't like us because they hate freedom. It's that simple.
So, where does that leave us as we head to the polls tomorrow ? Honestly ... I don't know. However, I think today's song and video is perfect for "Primary Eve." It's the Genesis 1986 classic, "Land of Confusion" from their album Invisible Touch.

"Land of Confusion" is a strange, but unique, video containing scenes with puppets of the band and of various political players from the '80s including Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and others. You can learn more about the video by clicking here.

The song's lyrics were fitting then, and in my opinion, they are fitting for today, also. It's especially true considering my earlier analysis of the GOP Presidential Candidates. There's not a clear conservative among them, nor a really good candidate, either. It's liberals trying to pass themselves off as conservatives. If that doesn't describe a "Land of Confusion," I don't know what does. So, what does a conservative do tomorrow when he or she walks into the voting booth in the "Land of Confusion ?"

If you figure that out in the next 24 hours, please let me know, because I haven't made up my mind yet. I'm stuck having to choose from the "lesser of the evils," and I hate that. For today, though, enjoy the video by clicking here or watch it embedded below in this post.

Yes indeed - "Oh Superman, where are you now ?"

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