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. 

1 comment:

DAP said...

Great post Sheep! We have to hold them accountable!