Transplant tales (5X8 -5/9/11)

Survival and death in the transplant game, a pencil-neck auction, why the small crowds at anti-tax rallies, the graying of the president, and video captures the beauty of night in the city.


The Monday Morning Rouser:

1) TOPIC: TRANSPLANTS

John LaPlante of Duluth is a lucky guy. He had an ex-girlfriend (she dumped him) who was willing to donate a kidney to him. And he had health insurance, the Duluth News Tribune reports….


The nine injections he received during his second rejection episode in July cost a total of $63,000. The medicine he takes — 19 pills every morning, 16 at night — costs $1,300 a month. That’s down considerably, LaPlante said, thanks to a generic equivalent that came out for one of the drugs.

He’ll be taking most of those pills the rest of his life. “A kidney transplant is not a cure,” LaPlante said. “It’s a treatment option, but a pretty darn good one.”

What happens to people who need transplants but don’t have health insurance? They die. A researcher for the American Cancer Society reports that blacks with liver cancer have a 15 percent chance of getting a transplant, that’s half of the rate of whites.


Although there are probably several reasons for the disparity, (Dr. Anthony) Robbins added, “the biggest driver is the difference in access to care at the early stages of the disease due to health insurance. And that needs to change.”

The average cost of surgery plus first year medical bills amounts to nearly $450,000.

Former VP Dick Cheney might need a heart transplant, but he told Fox News Sunday that he’s not sure he’ll get one, because a heart pump has made him feel better.

2) A PENCIL-NECK AUCTION

Fresh off his spat with House Majority Leader Matt Dean, author Neil Gaiman is is now immortalized as a “pencil-necked weasel.” Oddly, the asking price for it on EBay is not $45,000.

weasel_ebay.jpg

3) WHY THE SMALL CROWDS?

Is the anti-tax movement running out of gas?

Saturday’s tax cut rally at the Capitol in St. Paul was sparsely attended. Several hundred showed up at the rally this year; several thousand showed up last year. The local Fox affiliate also noted the disappointing crowd.

Hundreds Attend Anti-Tax Hike Rally at Capitol: MyFoxTWINCITIES.com

FoxNews, however, said “thousands” showed up.

Last month, another tea party rally featured a lower-than-expected turnout. Organizers blamed the low turnout on bad weather and no keynote speaker. But on Saturday, the organizers had both.

Related: Soon, there’s going to be a major showdown between people who spoof Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin…

4) THE GRAYING OF THE PRESIDENT

With Steve Kroft serving up softball after softball to President Obama last night on 60 Minutes, our mind wandered to how old our presidents get in short order. Apparently, we weren’t alone as Twitter lit up with “man, is he ever getting gray!” tweets.

obama_may11.jpg

But a comparison with Inauguration Day a little more than two years ago actually revealed he was gray then, too.

obama_inauguration_gray.jpg

It’s a mere coincidence, we’re sure, that Viagra is sponsoring the full interview at the 60 Minutes Web site.5) THE BEAUTY OF NIGHT

Between late 2010 and early 2011, photographer Dominic Boudreault visited Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Manhattan, and Chicago, shooting gorgeous images of the cityscapes at night. (h/t: The Big Picture)

Timelapse – The City Limits from Dominic on Vimeo.

Bonus: The Mississippi River flooding is dampening some streets in Memphis. That’s sent the network TV reporters scurrying for their hip waders and a place in which to stand in water to properly tell the story of a threat to America’s ankles.

ABC’s reporter went with the one-foot-on-a-log approach…

NBC’s reporter was mindful of Edward R. Murrow’s advice: “Always show some boot.”

But CBS gets the win on style points. The reporter adds the field vest for the full “war zone” look.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Allina Hospitals and Clinics has fired more than 30 employees at two hospitals for improperly looking at patients’ electronic medical records. The case comes at a time when government is urging health-care providers to switch to electronic records. Today’s Question: Do you trust the medical establishment to keep your information secure?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Every book lover has a favorite literary character, but what if you had to be stranded on a desert island with that character? Who would it be?

Second hour: In his new book, the best-selling author of “The Great Santini” and “Prince of Tides” pays homage to the literature that transformed his life.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Mike Mulcahy and MPR’s Capitol reporters preview the week ahead in the Legislature.

Second hour: 12– NPR and LA Times film critic Ken Turan, speaking recently at MPR’s Broadcast Journalist Series.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Mon ATC – Somali parents with autistic children say the Minnesota Health Department hasn’t taken their autism concerns seriously. Somalis say their community appears to have a much higher rate of autism than other ethnic groups and they suspect vaccines may be to blame. They complain that MDH keeps repeating that there’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism, so they should keep vaccinating their kids. Somalis say this is infuriating advice from an agency that has shown little interest in autism. MPR’s Lorna Benson will have the story.

Call it ‘Baja Arizona’. Upset with state laws on everything from illegal immigration to school curriculum, moderate activists in southern Arizona want to form a fifty first state. They believe it will send a message not only to their neighbors but to the whole country. Arizona is not as crazy as it’s being portrayed by some. But is ‘Baja Arizona a real possibility? NPR will report.

  • Izz

    Employees have been more tempted to pry into others private matters since the internet whether the records are on line or not.

    It seems that the wrong people are chosen to be responsible to maintain and keep private personal information.

    Fire the 30 people? Use them as an example and throw ‘em in the hokey. Then post their personal information on billboards and broadcast all their private information on the nightly news. (This would trump reality shows by thousands).

  • Kassie

    At my State Agency we fire people from time to time for violating security policies. Usually it is people looking up their neighbors or famous people or ex boyfriends in different systems. There recently was a report from the Legislative Auditor about about a security breech. I doubt we have ever fired 30 people a couple at a time for sure.

  • vjacobsen

    Re: Rouser

    Ah, I miss bandannas as shirts.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Regarding Transplants – Blacks who don’t get them and former Vice President’s who might: I’m afraid it might be several wars too late for Dick to get a new heart. Then again, hope springs eternal. :-)

  • Tyler

    I should have taken a picture this morning – NBC’s national morning show had a guy with full waders on, nearly up to his armpits in floodwater. I was secretly hoping he’d lose his balance.