Sunday, February 22, 2009


Updates to "Thank Yous (and R.I.P.s)" below:

Update: Jo-Ann Robinson died in the winter of '06 after a long fight with Scleroderma which took out her original kidneys, her transplanted kidney and a list of other organs I don't have the heart to mention. Jo-Ann was a beautiful person. She left a 14 year old daughter.

Update: Jennifer Choo-Chee got a transplant a few months ago! Just half a year earlier she was given no hope whatever of getting onto the list because she had too many antibodies in her blood. They are making great strides in transplantation: now they can even transplant organs of different blood types. A better solution is the living donor transplant swap: people who aren't a good match for their loved ones get matched up with others and they swap organs. Living donation is best. It can be scheduled, the living organ is never put on ice, the donor can now be up and about much more quickly now due to the new keyhole surgery pioneered at Toronto General Hospital.

Update: My beloved uncle Jerry Mayer died on May 1, 2008 due to a perforated bowel. He is deeply missed. Jerry got a transplant 23 years ago and it worked very well for a long time before he had to go back on dialysis just a few months earlier. Jerry was born in a plywood shack on Fort Road in Edmonton and his father died before he was born. He was orphaned at 11 and went on to study Linguistics at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, where he received the Governor-General's Gold Medal for scholastics. He earned his Masters and Doctorate in Pennsylvania and taught first at the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin and then, until his retirement at Fordham University in the city he loved, New York. He leaves a longtime boyfriend and many devoted and loving family members. He was planning to get back on the transplant list for a second go. Jerry wasn't through with life even if life was through with him. For ten days he fought cascading multiple organ failure with an astounding will and, just as we could see the blood come back to his face and feel the heat from three of his four extremities he gave up the ghost.

Update: My friend Eric Layman, author of "To A Stark And Clean Place" and "The Brightest Fire" died only a few days before my uncle Jerry. Eric died from complications related to emphysema. We never discussed a lung transplant. We ought to have. There are a couple of excellent eulogies here in the Globe and Mail and The Canadian Jewish News, where he worked. There's a small Wikipedia entry here. Eric's integrity was awesome. His life and death taught me that you can have any one thing you want so long as it's one thing. Eric wanted art through poetry and he was honoured for it. Between one and two hundred met to celebrate his life last summer. A man who speaks his mind is rare: when we lost Eric, we lost a whole city. I will try to find out where to get his books and when I do so, I'll post the link here.

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