Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cuba and Florida

The relationship between Floridians and Cuba is often contentious. Many fled the Caribbean nation in the late 1950s at the beginning of the Castro dictatorship.

In Haiti, I have worked with several physicians from Cuba. Health care in Cuba is delivered by physicians hired by the state and paid approximately $50 per month. Physicians are responsible for all the people living in a particular geographic area. Many of the high tech tools that we have become accustomed to in the US are lacking.

Historically, Cuba has isolated itself and continues to prohibit many basic freedoms. Cubans cannot travel nor speak freely.

A recent bill passed in the Florida legislature prohibits companies with business operations in Cuba or Syria from obtaining any state or local contracts valued at more than $1 million. The goal of this bill is to place pressure on Cuba to allow free trade or remain isolated from the rest of the world.

I am personally in favor of isolating Cuba. While it is clear that they now need the support of capitalist countries like the United States, they continue to remain communist and denounce the American way of life.

How do you feel?
Should we open further trade with Cuba?
Should we encourage Americans to spend American dollars while vacationing in a communist dictatorship?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kidney Transplant Chain

Over 90,000 people in the United States are waiting for a kidney to become available for transplantation. While many friends and family members are willing to donate a kidney, they are often not an appropriate tissue match. A kidney transplant chain provides an alternative, lifesaving route.

The chain begins when a person is willing to donate but may not be a match for their intended recipient. The potential donor agrees to donate to a perfect stranger who may be a match in return for that recipient having a person willing to donate to someone else. This process repeats itself until the original recipient receives a kidney.

Recently, 30 people received kidneys in a chain. The chain included ex-boyfriends, former prom dates and close friends all willing to pay the steep price of admission to this special group.

The logistics for this complex chain are handled by an ex-Marine named Garet Hill through the National Kidney Registry.

Sadly, chains like this have become a necessary means of making organs available. Many Americans have not committed to becoming organ donors upon their demise. Their reasons for burying healthy organs vary, but none are based on logic, religion or science.

Many European countries consider everyone an organ donor unless they specifically "opt out" of organ donation. This has increased the number of organs available in those countries while alleviating some of the bizarre obstacles to donation.

How do you feel? Should organ donation after death be understood unless someone opts out?