Take What You Need – Bury the Rest...
When I die, please recycle my body. En serio. Of course, I’m an organ donor, blood donor, plasma donor. I’m on the bone marrow registry, and I’ve taken the long arduous 4 years to grow out my unruly, curly hair for Locks of Love – 3 times!
Am I the world’s do-gooder? No lo creas. I’m way too lazy for that. Really, how hard it is it to NOT go to the salon?
What I am is a Latina in a world full of Latinas y Latinos under-represented in the medical field. There are over 42 million Hispanics in the US. While Hispanics are less likely than white Americans to develop and die from lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer, a study by the Heart Association found that Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. And, a 2003 study found that Hispanics, who comprised 13 percent of the U.S. population at the time, accounted for 20 percent of those living with AIDS.
Did you know that currently less than 6 cents out of each health dollar spent in the U.S. goes for research to improve health? How much of that do you think goes to research on Latinos?
We know there are genetic differences among ethnicities, differences which encode any number of diseases. While we represent 17% of those needing bone marrow transplants (and 17% of the overall population), only 8.7% of potential blood marrow donors self-identify as Hispanic.
Face it, amigos, we’re quickly becoming a non-minority, but medically, there’s a disproportionately small amount of medical info on us in the US.
So, when I die, harvest what organs you can. Pop out my eyeballs if anyone will have my depth-perception challenged, near-sighted, baby browns, and send the rest of me off to the nearest research center.
Medical schools like at Stanford, University of Texas-San Antonio, University of New Mexico and University of Miami, some of the top medical schools for Hispanics , use donated cadavers to their willed-body programs for research and for instruction. Many medical schools post memoriam for donors, encouraging medical students and the family of the dearly departed to celebrate the valuable life and death of the bagged, tagged, sliced and diced deceased.
What, me preguntas, does this have to do with QueVerde? Wouldn’t composting my meaty parts be better for the environment?
First, burial plots average 3.5 feet wide by 8 feet long. That’s a nice bit of land to bury a body. The body is so filled with chemicals and encased in a protective casket that it takes decades for it to return to the earth. The hearse and all those mourners in the procession are using valuable and EXPENSIVE fuel, not to mention the wasted resources of water and fertilizer for the cemetery lawn, the wasted wood for the casket, and the waste of a perfectly good pair of black heels and slinky skirt -- all my black is slinky, of course.
Let’s say, instead, that I’m cremated. It takes 15kWh of electricity on average to blast a body to dust -- toxic dust full of mercury and other contaminants. That’s roughly equivalent to the energy used by a single person for an entire month or as much as it takes to drive 4,800 miles!
Given the wasted resources with either burials or cremations, donating your body in its entirety doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. If you’re interested, go to the body donation section of LivingBank.org (http://www.livingbank.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Whole_Body_Donation) for more information. LivingBank.org even has a section in Spanish.
So there you have it. You need me, or rather my body, to keep you healthy. And, I’m doing the environment a big favor. Anyone want to join me?
Ethical Markets Media LLC
1- National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, HispanicMagazine.com, October 2003.
2- Hispanic Health and Science Poll, 2007, Charlton Research Company for Research!America
3- 2006 Census data; 2004 Biennial Report of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry
4- HispanicBusiness.com, Sept. 2006
5- Florida Statute
6- The Guardian, Oct. 18, 2005; Greendaily.com Jan. 11, 2008