Bob Aronson

Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

The “Smoking” Gun

In Cigarette smoke kills 555 people a day on December 19, 2007 at 4:54 PM

The Airbus A380-800, is the biggest airplane in the sky.  It can carry 555 people, maybe more depending on how the seats are configured.  What would you think — how would you react if two of these monstrous planes crashed every day for evermore?  I imagine the public outrage would be monumental.  “But wait,” as the commercial says, “There’s more.”  What if these disasters were totally preventable?  What if the planes were crashing because of a faulty switch that everyone knew about but ignored — and the planes just kept on crashing killing 438,000 Americans a year — year after year.  Would there be outrage?  Would congress act?  Would there be demonstrations in the streets?  Count on it! 

Far-fetched as it may seem the equivalent of two fully loaded Airbus A390-800’s are crashing every day. 438,000, that’s the number of Americans who die as a result of cigarette smoke each year.  And — these deaths are almost totally preventable, like fixing the switches on the airplanes.  This disgraceful situation is a national tragedy, a crisis that cannot be allowed to continue. 

I’m writing this because there is a clear and present danger to every one of us, even the unborn and those not yet conceived.  There is also a direct relationship between smoking and organ transplantation.  Simply put, if fewer people smoked, the need for organs and tissue would be greatly diminished and there would probably be a corresponding increase in the availability of tissue and organs.  Wow! 

Cigarettes are like bullets only far more deadly.  Bullets generally harm or kill only the people they strike.  Cigarettes not only affect anyone who inhales the smoke, they kill you slowly and painfully. I started smoking in 1954 at the age of 15.  There were no warnings then and almost everyone smoked.  Cigarette advertising even alluded to the beneficial health effects of smoking, “XXX brand cigarettes relieve scratchy throat…etc. “ 

I’ve seen the effects of smoking up close and personal.  My father died of emphysema and I lost a wife to lung cancer.  Both were smokers.  Now I am suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  COPD is progressive and cannot be cured.  Four months ago I had a heart transplant, probably necessitated in part because of 37 years of smoking three or more packs a day.  My heart is working exceptionally well but my lungs are in a weakened condition.  Even though I quite smoking 18 years ago the effects may slowly be killing me.  But — had I not quit I would probably have died long ago.

Smoking affects every part of you.  According to “The Scoop on Smoking” (http://thescooponsmoking.org/), smoking has a negative effect on the following: Respiratory system (lungs), Skeletal system (bones), Muscular system (muscles, joints), Circulatory system (heart, arteries), Urinary system (kidneys, bladder), Digestive system (stomach, intestines) Nervous system (brain, nerves), Endocrine system (thyroid, hormones), Female reproductive system (uterus, ovaries), Male reproductive system (penis, testes), Immune system (t-cells, anti-bodies), Skin, The senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat) and mental health. 

While the number of deaths caused by cigarette smoke is appalling, the cost in dollars is also extremely disturbing.  Smoking costs taxpayers nearly $200 billion a year in health-care alone.  Can you imagine the good that would come from properly spending that $200 billion on medical research and education? 

I have but three messages.  1) I know it is hard to quit, it took a dozen tries for me to do so but you can do it!.  You owe it to yourself, your family and all the people affected by your second hand smoke.  2) Don’t start, it’s not cool and it likely will kill  you and maybe some of your family and friends.  3) Spread the word.  Out of love, encourage and help friends and loved ones to quit so none of them are in my position and feel compelled to write a blog on how smoking may be killing them.

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 2,500 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

Why I Blog

In waiting for organs on December 7, 2007 at 4:12 PM

 I’m new at this but I blog (I guess blog is also a verb) because I am a heart transplant patient and want to increase the number of organ donors.  I always supported organ donation but until I developed heart disease it never occurred to me that I might need an organ.  Has it ever occurred to you? 

Did you know that one organ/tissue/eye donor can save or positively affect up to 60 lives?  There’s a slogan, “Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here” that makes a great deal of sense.  We know how many people die every year while waiting for organs, but I wonder how many healthy, useful organs are buried each year because people didn’t understand the need or didn’t take the time to become donors.

Increasing the number of organ donors is a simple goal but impossible to achieve alone, so I started the Facebook group, “Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You,” a group open to anyone interested in organ transplantation — anyone. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15612565382    

The need for more organs is well established.  LifeQuest, a Florida Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) that coordinates organ transplants, lists the following facts on their website: http://www.lifequestfla.org/

  • As of August 31, 2007, there were 97,000 people on the national organ waiting list.  

  • Roughly 17 people die each day waiting for organs (Bob’s note — that’s over 6,000 unnecessary deaths a year).

  • A new name is added to the waiting list every 13 minutes.

  • There were only 8,024 deceased organ donors in 2006.

  • There were only 6,733 living donors in 2006 (Living donors are those who give a kidney or portion of their liver or lung to a relative or friend).

  • In the year 2006, there were 28,923 organ transplants performed in the United States.

My life was saved on August 21, 2007 by a very generous, kind and courageous stranger.  There is a monumental need for many more generous strangers – millions more.  We can stop the dying, we can make sure that anyone who needs an organ gets one but we need to work together.  Please join our group, read, contribute, discuss and spread the word.  Someone’s life depends on it and it could be yours or someone very dear to you. 

My First YouTube Video

In waiting for organs on December 7, 2007 at 2:13 PM

This video was done for Facebook’s “Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You” group.  By way of this video we invite you to join the group and our efforts to increase organ donation.  

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15612565382

Walk Backwards — Forge Ahead

In journaling on December 3, 2007 at 11:52 AM

<I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s in Chisholm, Minnesota, a small town about 90 miles south of the Canadian border. Winters were cold, windy and snowy. Cars did not start unless you took the battery in the house every night and even that was no assurance of success. Getting a ride to school was unheard of because like most families we had one car and if it started dad took it to work, so – we walked everywhere (about a mile to school, uphill both ways ).

We learned early that when a blizzard was really howling you pulled up your hood, covered your face, put your head down and pushed forward. Sometimes, when extreme winds left us breathless, we would turn around and walk backwards. They did not cancel school in those days and there was no reward in going home, so we just kept moving. Not much could stop us from getting to where we needed to go.
My reminder of this great life lesson came on November 21 this year. Three months post heart transplant and feeling great, I was walking on the treadmill for an hour a day, doing all the grocery shopping, some light housekeeping and even considering resuming my career. Then, ”Bang,” I was hit with one of those breathtaking blizzard winds, I got pneumonia and was hospitalized the night before Thanksgiving 2008.
I had been told several times that because the anti-rejection drugs left me with a suppressed immune system, contracting a “bug” was very likely, but I thought, “I’m doing well, it won’t happen to me.” Well, the something that couldn’t happen, did and my energy level was affected immediately.
If you have ever seen snow blowing off the roof of a house, then you know how I felt. All my newfound energy was slowly but steadily drifting away. When I left the hospital after five days, I was almost as weak as I was after my transplant. I don’t know where I would have been if not for my previous three months of cardiac rehab; at least I had some strength to lose.
In the face of this storm, I knew that if I gave in to it, I would jeopardize my new heart. Medicine and technology by themselves cannot make for successful transplants; exercise is a crucial element and must continue regardless of the obstacles.
My earlier life experience with snowstorms became relevant again, “Walk backwards if necessary but keep forging ahead.” I’m doing that. Now a couple of weeks after being released from the hospital my breathing is much better and while I’m still recovering from pneumonia I know that turning back is simply not an option.
I’m not perfect and yes, I get discouraged, but thanks to the medical and rehab professionals, my wonderful caregiver wife Robin and my own optimistic attitude I will make it through this storm even if I have to walk backwards to do it.
The lesson for transplant patients is that you will have setbacks but they should be temporary and maybe even motivational. We can’t afford to lose site of the fact that new organs saved our lives. Now, we have an obligation to take care of them. To do anything else is not only self-defeating and deadly, it is an insult to the wonderful donors and their families who gave us a second chance.
You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.
Please view our new video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.
Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transtation issues. When you leave this site go to our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative and join. The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

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