Donor a.k.a. Waiting List

by Brian Chateauvert

"You have liver cancer." The doctor's words slapped me like wet leather. I had thought the fevers and vomiting blood were the signs of an ulcer or a bad case of food poisoning. "You have a tumor the size of a golf ball, which cannot be removed without destroying the liver." My father was an alcoholic for decades and was never sick a day in his life, and here I am burned with liver cancer and never had a drink in my 32 years on this planet.

Sins of the father

I asked about my options. All I had left was to be put on the donor list, "but to be honest, the list has about a two year wait, and you only have approximately six months to live unless there is a spree of untimely deaths."

There go my plans for the Bahamas next summer.

I walked out of the doctor's office with a stack of pamphlets and enough prescriptions to set a meth-lab back for a month. The hospital hallway reeked of sterilized urine and disposable plastic. Doctors fresh out of college passed me, not yet outgrown the God complex of saving their first life. They had so much to look forward to-a wife, kids, money, maybe even the Nobel Prize. All I had to look forward to was a slow, painful death.

The full impact of the situation didn't hit me until the drive back to my apartment. I was sitting at the stoplight, crying as if each tear could dissolve the tumor. In a fit of rage, I punched the horn. The car in front of me must have thought that I was letting him know the light turned green, he pulled out in oncoming traffic.

The air was thick with screams and radiator fluid. It was anarchy yet poetic, quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life.

The wail of the ambulance and police sirens created an epiphany. The two drivers, now declared DOA, will be dissected and their precious organs will be harvested. This is my only hope.

* * *

The next day, I was like a mischievous child. I loosened tie-down straps on the backs of trucks, one good pothole, and a couple on vacations from Virginia get decapitated. Over inflate a couple of bald tires, and a gym teacher blows out and flips his SUV on his way to meet up with his 17 year old mistress.

I never personally watched the accidents; I just liked to hear people talk about the horrendous pile up on I26 or the car fire that had Second Street blocked for an hour and a half. Remember seeing the 18-wheeler that lost his trailer down highway 10 on the news? You guessed it.

I never feel bad about what I've done, unless a child dies. A child's organs are not developed enough to be used in an adult, and therefore, a useless death. That is why I tend to stay away from school busses, minivans, and SUVs. A station wagon on the other hand, usually means this person used to have small children in the late 80s, early 90s, meaning middle aged, middle class. These are the majority of registered organ donors in America.

This target area tends to drive American made cars between three and ten years old. Higher end cars, and brand new cars tend to be owned by the upper class who generally feel they are better than others, and choose not to give organs to the undeserving. Caddillacs, Lincolns, and Buicks are usually owned by the elderly whose organs are almost never used due to deterioration. Older cars and pickup trucks are often the lower class and rednecks that are often backwoods creationists that feel you won't get into heaven in you don't have your kidneys.

* * *

About two months after my diagnosis, the doctor forced me to go to the cancer recovery support group at a near-by church. "Recovery" is a term that should be taken very lightly when talking about support groups; these are people trying to cope with the fact that they are soon going to die. The organization's sole purpose is to keep you from cowering in fear and attempting to sell your soul to Satan when you're on your deathbed.

The people who go to these things are dead already, just a memory of the lives they used to live. This is their purgatory. If you ever wondered what death would look like with an aluminum walker, hit up the first Baptist church any night of the week. Every meeting, the numbers fluctuate; some new victims come while the veterans either get a transplant or, as their obituaries read, they "succumb after a valiant struggle and passed to the other world."

After a few meetings, the pastor took me aside. He's one of those born again Christian types, track marks, awkwardly cut greasy hair that obviously used to be to the shoulders at least, and tattoos of naked women covered up to become the Virgin Mary (you can still see nipples if you look hard enough). Outside the church, he lights up a cigarette and talks to me in a forced, uncomfortable manner. "God has a plan," he reluctantly informed me, "and you your part of his plan, every thing that we do, and are done to us are by the grace of God." I told him that I understood. I lied and told him I was making my peace, and accepting my fate. He nodded, knowing that was a lie, just like everyone else does when they know they're dying.

In that parking lot, I realized I was less human than ever, I have become an animal; the deaths I caused were out of basic survival instinct: they had something I needed to live. Something has to die for another to survive; you like to eat don't you? This is survival of the fittest, no holds barred.

* * *

I could barely walk by winter, but I made myself get out the night of the first freeze. I wheezed as I dumped buckets of water and motor oil mixed into a milky sludge that freezes into the worst black ice imaginable. I was dumping the second bucket when I realized that the pastor was right, I am part of God's plan. A heart, two lungs, two kidneys, and a liver: each life I take saves six. Most of these people don't even appreciate their lives, so why not give them to someone who wants nothing more than to live?

About that time, I lost my breath and choked out dry vomit, a side effect of my chemo. On my hands and knees staring cross-eyed at the snow, painted with my blood & bile, I knew this would probably be my last chance to save myself. At that moment, I couldn't really care less. Earlier at the supermarket, I injected some highly combustible chemicals into a few jugs of antifreeze, add a little heat and see a nice explosion. I also broke half the snow chains in the parking lot.

All of this seemed so useless though, like eating cake when you're not hungry. I take lives of people who don't deserve to live to give life to those who wasted their lives with drugs and alcohol, all in a vain attempt to save my own undeserving life. Still I continued on, leaving a smoldering path of destruction in my wake

* * *

As I write this, I realize these may be my last words. I realize now that I had no right to take those lives, fear and vanity spawn a rancid disease. I should have taken my death sentence with dignity and made peace with my creator like everyone told me. My hair & my teeth are gone, my body soon to join. The hospital just called to say there is a donor liver with my name on it, that if I can hold up until the ambulance gets here, I may pull through. God answers all of your prayers; he's just a little backed up.

* * *

POLICE REPORT: At approximately 1 a.m. paramedics arrived at the suspect's apartment to take him to surgery. After loading the suspect into the ambulance, the vehicle was hit head on by a drunk driver when attempting to leave the complex. When questioned, the drunk driver, one Anthony Davis, replied he had just received a new liver and was "taking it out for a test drive," both paramedics survived; the suspect however, was killed on impact. After entering the suspect's apartment, the attached confession was found on the table.

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