Thursday, November 1, 2018

Wrong for the Job

I thought long and hard about whether or not to write this post. I've been hesitant to do so, because, like most of us, I'm sick of the political garbage. However, as an advocate for organ and tissue donation, my great state is in danger of electing a U.S. Senator who is totally the wrong person for the job, particularly for Tennesseans who are transplant recipients or donor family members.

Courtesy : Wikipedia
The mere thought of Phil Bredesen as U.S Senator from Tennessee makes me ill. I don't care for him at all. I endured 8 years of him as Nashville, TN mayor plus 8 years of him as Tennessee Governor. In fact, his time as mayor is one of the reasons we moved out of Davidson County in 2005, because I got tired of my property taxes going up. I could list many more reasons as to why I don't like Bredesen, but there is one that trumps them all, and it has nothing to do with politics.

While he was governor, the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO), ran a series of anti-drunk driving PSAs. Sounds great, right? No one wants intoxicated drivers on the roads. Honestly, the PSAs were good, until one titled "Harvest" aired.

It starts off talking about an emergency surgery. Then, Bredesen points to an open operating room and explains that a "harvest" (organs being recovered for transplant) is taking place in there due to a young girl being killed by a drunk driver. First of all, he should have used the proper terminology. We use the term "recovery" now. However, that mistake was the least of the problems with the PSA.

When I saw the PSA for the first time, I was initially in shock that a governor would be so insensitive. Next, I got angry. Why? Because to me the underlying theme of the ad is not that drunk driving is bad and people shouldn't do it - it's that drunk driving causes people to become organ donors and that organ donation is the penalty for drunk driving. He connected a life-saving positive with a senseless, tragic, no-regard-for-human life negative. Organ donation and drunk driving should NEVER be connected to each other in such a way and doing so was cold and heartless.

Now, do some life-saving transplants come about due to tragic drunk driving accidents? Yes, they do, unfortunately. However, think about this. Imagine being a donor family member whose loved one was killed by a drunk driver and when watching TV one evening this PSA airs. Can you imagine re-living that tragedy and the grief associated with it due to the insensitivity of someone like then Governor Phil Bredesen?

The following morning, I contacted both the GHSO and Governor Bredesen's office by email. I brought to their attention how insensitive the ad was, requested it be discontinued, and that an apology be issued to donor families across the state due the insensitivity with which organ donation had been portrayed. Instead of the organ donor in the PSA being portrayed as a life-saving hero, they were portrayed as a by-product of and just part of the cost of drunk driving. No mention of the lives this hero would save and change. None. Nada. Zilch.  Inexcusable.

In my email, I also mentioned that if Bredesen was truly interested in organ and tissue donation, myself and others would be happy to have him join us in advocacy for the cause. We would be thrilled to train and teach him how to do it the right way, too. Wanna guess what Bredesen's reply was? Well, first of all, there was no mention of helping the cause. He only said he stood by the PSA. Plus, instead of discontinuing the PSA, it seemed it's air time increased as I saw it several more times on TV. I also heard that it aired on the big screen at a Tennessee Titans game. No apology was ever issued to Tennessee donor families, either.

I'd be willing to bet, though, that if Bredesen had offended a racial minority or the LGBT community and received a complaint, he would have apologized faster than a Tennessee fan can cry "Fire Coach (insert name)" after getting smoked by Alabama ... again. As for the transplant community - well, it was obvious to me from his reply that he didn't give a damn about it, about how it's members feel, or what they think. Guess we're not a big enough voting block. The fact of the matter is that everyone matters regardless of how many votes they represent.

My "displeasure" with the PSA was not so much about being a transplant recipient but more about the lack of dignity and respect shown to donor families. This PSA did not treat their loved ones, who are responsible for many of us being alive today, with the honor they deserve. Donors are as much of a hero as public safety personnel and our military. They should be regarded as such, but instead of doing so, Bredesen completely blew it disregarding their selfless gifts of life. Worse yet, when called on the carpet and given a chance to make it right, he passed. He didn't give a damn. Period.


Since my transplant in 2007, I have tirelessly promoted organ and tissue donation. I know how it changes lives for the better. I also know that 20 people across the country will die today, because a life-saving organ match doesn't come in time. Furthermore, I know how difficult it is to get folks who haven't registered as donors to do so. A knucklehead like Bredesen running a PSA, like this one, makes the work even more difficult by putting a negative spin on it.

I actually wrote about this PSA on this blog back in 2009 (here). Even though I had a copy of the PSA on my PC back then, and still have it now, I will not post it, because unlike Bredesen, I have the utmost respect for donor families. However, if my railing against this deplorable PSA is ever questioned, I have the evidence to prove my viewpoint.

If you are an organ recipient or donor family member in Tennessee, or know a recipient or donor family member, I implore you to NOT vote for Bredesen as your next U.S. Senator. The "Harvest" PSA showed me that he does not care about the organ donation community, donors, and their families in particular.

Therefore, I believe Phil Bredesen is not only the wrong person for the job but he's actually unfit to be a U.S. Senator or serve the public in any leadership position.

I have never voted for him for anything and never will, and I hope everyone that reads this won't either. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Transplant Record

Back in April, a new Guinness World Record was achieved. On that day, in Chicago, IL, a group of living donors gathered for a "Living Donor Rally" at "The Bean" Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. With enormous media coverage on hand, the 410 living donors who gathered, set the world record for the largest gathering of living donors ever.
Cloud Gate - Credit: Wikipedia

The event's purpose was two-fold. First, according to event co-organizer Laurie Lee, a living kidney donor, the group wanted "... to share the important news about how people can save lives through organ donation - and they can do it without dying first. So many still have no idea that they can go beyond donating organs upon their death. Raising awareness saves lives and making this kind of impact is rewarding."

Second, the event raised over $32,000 for a Northwestern Medicine living donor fund. These monies will be used to help living donors defray any living donation expenses that health insurance does not cover.

Kudos to all who put in the time and effort to make this worthwhile event happen. For more information about living organ donation, please visit Donate Life America's website by clicking here

Read More: article titled "Local Woman at Heart of Guinness Record for Organ Donor Gathering"

Monday, June 25, 2018

Music Monday's A Breeze

It's been a little while since The Sheepdog posted, and today I'm in a music kinda mood. Specifically - a Southern rock kinda mood, and you can't talk about Southern rock without using the words Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Skynyrd announced earlier this year that they would be headed out on the road one last time in 2018 for their Farewell Tour. I feel like Southern rock as a genre is taking a hit this year with both Skynyrd and Third Day on such tours. However, their music will live on forever.

So, for today's Music Monday, let's journey back to 1976 for some live Skynyrd with "Call Me The Breeze". Video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Thanks for the music and memories, guys. You will be missed.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

United HealthCare, God, and a Life-Saving Liver Transplant

In The Sheepdog's opinion, it appears United HealthCare (UHC) thinks it's no longer in the health insurance business. Instead, it's received a promotion into the business of being God. However, don't take my word for it, just ask 38-year-old mother of one, Erika Zak. UHC has put her through as much hell as cancer did.

Location of human liver - credit Wikipedia
Diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Erika endured more than 70 rounds of chemo and various other treatments which resulted in serious side effects, including damage to her liver and subsequent liver failure.

Over 100 doctors from the country's top medical centers concur that Erika's only hope for survival at this point is a life-saving liver transplant. Yet, UHC denied coverage saying, "unproven health services is not a covered benefit". Really? Despite the fact that transplants have saved thousands of lives in the U.S. for decades, UHC refers to transplant as "unproven". Science, medical technology, and thousands of transplant recipients across the country, including The Sheepdog, prove otherwise.

The Sheepdog has seen a lot in his time, but the way UHC treated this woman and played GOD with her life, stringing her along for months, may be the most cold hearted thing I've heard of an insurance company doing. I suspect others have experienced similar agony, though.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Teachers Do Amazing Things

Reynoldsburg, OH city hall (credit: Wikipedia)
We often hear stories of teachers doing truly amazing things with, and for, their students. Heck, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard one of my friends in the education profession refer to their students as their "kids", The Sheepdog would be, to borrow a line from the boys in the band Warrant, "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich". 

10-year-old Eva suffers from a rare disease known as collapsing FSGS. Due to the devastating effects of the disease, Eva needed a kidney transplant. Guess who stepped up to be her living donor "hero"? Yep, you guessed it - a 4th grade teacher, Tanya Thomas, at Eva's school.

The entire story can be watched in the video embedded below, or it can be watched or the entire story, "Reynoldsburg Teacher to Donate Kidney to Student", read on here. The heartwarming story is more evidence of how much teachers love students and how organ donation saves lives. For information on organ donation, including how to register in the state where you live, please visit the Donate Life America website by clicking here.

P.S. Don't forget - The Sheepdog has a new Facebook page. You're invited to visit it and "Like" it here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Liver Transplant Gives 8-Year-Old Girl Second Chance

Willow Clayton, 8, from Indiana recently received a life-saving liver transplant after being born with Biliary Artesia. It's a disease that prevents the body from riding itself of toxins, and it threatened to end her young life.

Willow's only hope was a liver transplant, and her story is more evidence of how well the miracle of organ transplantation works. The news video of her amazing story is embedded below, or can be watched by clicking here.

Or, you can read the full article ("8-Year-Old's Life Changed Forever After Organ Donation") on by clicking here.

For more information on organ and tissue donation, including how you can register as a donor in the state where you live, please click on the Donate Life America logo within this post.

Also, as a reminder, The Second Chance Sheepdog is now on Facebook here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

An Ode to the Nashville Transit System


I'm kinda shocked. On May 1st, the people of Nashville crushed the proposed $9 Billion transit plan. The margin of vote was 65% against the project which would have taken a decade or so to build and would ultimately do nothing to cure the city's traffic ills.

The people rising up against the power brokers who were looking to line their pockets from the plan was a thing of beauty. The Sheepdog's first reaction was, in the words of Tyler Perry's Madea, "Hallelujer!!", because the plan would have exacerbated the traffic problems while under construction. 

Plus, considering how much debt the city's last 3 mayors have piled on the city's taxpayers, I think it's possible bankruptcy might have been looming in the city's future, if the project had been approved. Having a number of friends who work for the city, that would not have been good for them.

So, today, in my 1st post back, I offer "An Ode to the Nashville Transit Plan" via AC/DC's classic "Shot Down In Flames", which is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Power to the people!! Hallelujer!!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Just Call Me ...

... Brett Favre.

The Sheepdog is "un-retiring".

English: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett F...
English: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre during on-field warmups at Ralph B. Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills on November 5, 2006. Fran├žais : Brett Favre, quarterback des Green Bay Packers, avant un jeu contre le Buffalo Bills. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Much like the great Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning quarterback, when I signed off for what I thought would be the last time back in December, I had no intention of ending up "back in the game'. I honestly did not. However, here I am to announce that The Sheepdog is back. He's open for business.

There is one main reason I am doing so. When I received my heart transplant in 2007, I knew instantly when waking up from surgery that my life had changed. I could literally feel life pulsing through my body for the first time in a long time. Laying in ICU praying a few days later, the Lord very strongly impressed upon me to tell everyone what He had done for me. I felt it was not only imperative for me to do so in order to be obedient to Him, but also as a way of helping others receive the same "2nd chance" I had just been given.

Over the last month, or so, I've come to realize that this blog is one of the best ways for me to do just that. Advocating for organ and tissue donation is my calling. You don't just "retire" from a calling - especially not when the Creator of the universe is the one who called you.

Also, to make following The Sheepdog blog more convenient, it now has a Facebook page. To locate and "Like" the page, just click here, or on the Facebook logo at the top of the right sidebar.  If some of the previous Blogger issues continue, it may be that one day, I completely move the blog's activities to Facebook.

Posts will start soon. I'll see ya on the web.