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0858 Donating an Organ

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 858: Donating an Organ.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast number 858. I’m your host, Dr, Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and help support this podcast and improve your English as fast as possible by downloading a Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialog between Christine and Saul, about donating a part of your body to someone else. Let’s get started!

[start of dialog]

Christine: What is this sticker on your driver’s license?

Saul: This sticker? It indicates that I’ve signed up for the organ donation program. If anything bad happens to me, I want my organs to go to recipients who need them.

Christine: You mean you want somebody else to have your heart, liver...

Saul: ...eyes, kidneys, or anything else that can be transplanted into someone else. Don’t you want to donate your organs?

Christine: Me? No way. I’ll never consent to doctors cutting up my body after I die. Those organs are a part of me.

Saul: But you won’t need them when you’re dead, and there are long waiting lists at eye banks and organ registries. Your organ donation might be the difference between life and death for somebody, you know.

Christine: That might be true, but I can’t imagine somebody else walking around with my brain.

Saul: Hmm, come to think of it, me neither.

[end of dialog]

Our dialog begins with Christine asking Saul, “What is this sticker on your driver’s license?” A “sticker” (sticker) is a small piece of paper, usually with a word or a picture on it that you put on something and it sticks to it. The verb “to stick” means to adhere, to stay on something so that it won’t come off. A sticker is used, for example, on the back of your car. You can put a, what we would call a “bumper sticker” on the back of your car. Basically, it’s a piece of paper with a little bit of glue or some sort of substance on the back that will allow it to be placed on another object.

Saul has a sticker on his driver’s license. A “driver’s license” is usually a small plastic card with your name and your picture on it that shows that you have permission to drive in a certain state. Each state has its own driver’s license in the United States but if you have a driver’s license from one state, you can drive in any state.

Saul says, “This sticker? It indicates that I’ve signed up for the organ donation program.” Saul says the sticker “indicates,” meaning it shows. It makes something clear. It makes something understood. It indicates that I’ve signed up; that is, I’ve become a member of the organ donation program. An “organ” (organ) is a part of your body like your lungs, your kidney, your heart, your pancreas – all of these would be organs in your body. They’re parts of your body. “Donation” means a gift – to give something to someone. The verb is “to donate” (donate). “Organ donation,” then, is when you give a part of your body to another person. You can do this while you are living. For example, you can donate a kidney to someone because most people are born with two kidneys and so, you can give one to someone else. It might be something that happens after you die. You may donate part of your body to someone else who is living because after all, if you’re dead, you don’t need your organs anymore, probably.

Saul says that “If anything bad happens to me” – that is, if he gets injured or killed – “I want my organs to go to recipients who need them.” A “recipient” (recipient) is someone who receives something. Someone who is given something is a recipient. We might talk about someone being a recipient of an award. “He was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.” “He was a recipient of an Oscar Award.”

You can also be a recipient, in this case, of an organ. Christine says, “You mean you want somebody else to have your heart, liver” – she starts naming some of the organs. Your heart, you probably know, is the organ in your chest that pumps or moves blood throughout the body. Your “liver” (liver) is something near your stomach that filters blood as it goes through your body. Saul says, “… eyes, kidneys and anything else that can be transplanted into someone else.” Your kidney, as I mentioned earlier, is something that you actually have two of. You have two kidneys and it also is involved in filtering your blood. I’m not a doctor – not a real doctor – so I don’t have a good explanation for what all the organs do. But you studied biology, right? You know what organs are.

Saul wants his organs to be transplanted into someone else. “To transplant” means to move something from one place to another. We talk about organ transplants. The verb is “to transplant.” You can also talk about transplanting plants, trees, people – those things can all be transplanted, moved from one place to another.

Saul then asks Christine, “Don’t you want to donate your organs?” Christine says, “Me? No way!” – absolutely not, she says. “I’ll never consent to doctors cutting up my body after I die.” “To consent” (consent) means to agree to do something. Someone says, “I will not consent to that,” meaning I will not agree to that. I will not say “yes” to that. Christine says she’ll never consent to doctors cutting up her body after she dies. “To cut up” means to cut into, to open up your skin and take things from the inside of your body.

Christine says, “Those organs are part of me.” Saul says, “But you won’t need them when you’re dead and there are long waiting lists at eye banks and organ registries.” A “waiting list” is a long list of people who want something but there isn’t enough of that something. So they have to wait for it. You can have a waiting list for all sorts of things. At our colleges and universities, sometimes there aren’t enough spaces in the classroom, and so some courses have waiting lists. You have to wait and hope that there will be room in the class for you.

Many people need organs and so, there are waiting lists for organ transplants. One kind of place where people put their name down, we might say – where they join a waiting list – is an eye bank. An “eye bank” (bank) is a place that stores what are called “corneas,” parts of an eye that are taken from the bodies of people who have died. And they use these to help people who are living see better. An “organ registry” (registry) is an official list of people waiting for organs. A “registry” is any sort of official list or record. We also use this term when we are talking about legal matters. We might talk about an official registry with the government – an official list of people.

Saul says, “Your organ donation might be the difference between life and death for somebody.” The phrase “the difference between life and death” here means that something is so important, it could decide whether someone lives or dies. It is something that very important. Here, we’re talking about a case where someone could actually die if they did not get an organ.

However, the expression is also used in cases where we’re trying to say something is extremely or very important. A related expression is a “matter (matter) of life and death,” which means the same thing. However, I should point out that the original expression, back before the 19th century anyway, was “a matter of life or death,” which makes more sense. Either you live or you die. You can’t live and die. It can’t be life “and” death. It has to be life “or” death. However, most people use the expression “life and death.” You will still hear the original expression but they both mean the same thing.

Christine says, “That might be true.” It might be true that it’s a matter of life and or death. “But I can’t imagine somebody else walking around with my brain.” Your brain is the organ in your head. Most people have a brain. I know some people who I don’t think have brains, but most people have brains. My neighbor? Hmm…

Saul says, “Hmm, come to think of it, me neither.” So, Christine is worried that they might transplant her brain into someone else. And, of course, as of 2012, we don’t transplant people’s brains. But Saul agrees with Christine. He doesn’t think Christine is very smart, and so he says “Hmm, come to think of it, me neither.” The expression “come to think of it” is used to mean that you’ve thought about something and you now have a different opinion or a new understanding about something. “Me neither” is a slightly ungrammatical way of saying “Neither do I.” In common conversation however, people don’t say, typically, “Neither do I.” They’ll say something like, “Me neither,” even though “me” is not a subject pronoun. It should be “I” but we say it anyway. Saul is saying, “I don’t think anyone would want your brain either, Christine, because you’re stupid.” That’s really what Saul is saying, isn’t he?

Now let’s listen to the dialog this time, at a normal speed.

[start of dialog]

Christine: What is this sticker on your driver’s license?

Saul: This sticker? It indicates that I’ve signed up for the organ donation program. If anything bad happens to me, I want my organs to go to recipients who need them.

Christine: You mean you want somebody else to have your heart, liver...

Saul: ...eyes, kidneys, or anything else that can be transplanted into someone else. Don’t you want to donate your organs?

Christine: Me? No way. I’ll never consent to doctors cutting up my body after I die. Those organs are a part of me.

Saul: But you won’t need them when you’re dead, and there are long waiting lists at eye banks and organ registries. Your organ donation might be the difference between life and death for somebody, you know.

Christine: That might be true, but I can’t imagine somebody else walking around with my brain.

Saul: Hmm, come to think of it, me neither.

[end of dialog]

I would be much, much smarter if I had our scriptwriter’s brain. I speak, of course, of the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan, thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again, here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
sticker – a piece of paper with an image and/or text on one side and sticky glue on the other side so that it can adhere to other objects

* The teacher puts a star-shaped sticker on the top of the test if the student gets all the right answers.

driver’s license – a small card that fits in one’s wallet and is an official document stating that one has legal permission to drive in the state, often used as identification

* The bank teller looked at the photo and the signature on my driver’s license before cashing the check.

to indicate – to show; to state; to make something clear and understood

* The map indicates that we should turn left here, but that doesn’t feel right.

organ donation – the process of allowing one’s internal body parts to be used after one’s death to save or improve the life of someone else

* It’s important to speak with your family about organ donation, so that they can respect your wishes when you die.

recipient – a person who receives something; not the giver

* Maria Louisa was the recipient of four scholarships while she was a student at Montana State University.

heart – the internal organ (body part) in one’s chest that pumps or moves blood throughout one’s body, adding oxygen to it

* Jelissa felt like her heart stopped beating when she heard the bad news.

liver – the internal organ (body part) in one’s abdomen (stomach area) that filters blood as it passes through the digestive tract (path that food moves through while it is processed), taking out bad chemicals

* Many people who abuse alcohol suffer from diseases of the liver.

kidney – one of two internal organs (body parts) in the back part of the abdomen (stomach area) that filter blood, removing waste products and creating urine (liquid body waste)

* Did you know that you can donate one kidney and still function normally?

to transplant – to move an organ (body part) from one person’s body to another’s so that it can function in the other body

* The doctors want to transplant a cornea into Stamford’s eye so that he will be able to see again.

to consent – to agree to do what someone wants one to do; to provide permission for something to happen

* How did you get your father to consent to letting you stay out until 2:00 a.m.?

waiting list – a long list of people who are waiting to have, receive, or do something when there are not enough things for everyone on the list

* We don’t have any openings in our preschool this fall, but we can put your daughter on our waiting list.

eye bank – a facility that stores corneas (parts of an eye) that were taken from the bodies of people who have died, and keeps those corneas healthy until they can be used to restore sight for another person

* How long can a cornea be preserved in an eye bank?

registry – an official list or record

* Our wedding registry has a list of items that our wedding guests can buy for us as wedding gifts.

the difference between life and death – something that plays an important role in a situation, determining whether another person lives or dies; something that is extremely important

* Wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between life and death in a car crash.

brain – the internal organ (body part) inside one’s head that allows one to think and process information, and controls the heart and other functions of the body

* Scientists are researching which parts of the brain are involved in understanding language.

come to think of it – a phrase used to mean that one has thought about something and had a realization or a new understanding of something

* A: Are you sure you don’t want to go to the party? Brad will be there.

B: Come to think of it, I do want to go!

me neither – neither do I; a phrase used to mean that one agrees with the other person’s negative response to something

* A: I didn’t understand anything from Dr. Nygen’s lecture today.

B: Me neither.

Comprehension Questions
1. What will happen to Saul’s organs after he dies?
a) They will be donated to scientists for research.
b) They will be put in other people’s body.
c) They will be studied by medical students.

2. Why are there long waiting lists at eye banks?
a) Because the number of corneas available is greater than the number of people who need them.
b) Because the number of people who need corneas is greater than the number f corneas available.
c) Because it is very hard to get an appointment at the eye bank.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
heart

The word “heart,” in this podcast, means the internal organ (body part) in one’s chest that pumps or moves blood throughout one’s body, adding oxygen to it: “As soon as he saw Olga, his heart began beating more quickly.” The “heart” also refers to where one feels very strong emotions, especially love: “Look in your heart to understand what you really want.” Or, “When Craig broke up with Lola, it broke her heart.” The phrase “to put (one’s) hand on (one’s) heart” means to lay one’s hand flat against the left side of one’s chest: “At the beginning of baseball games, everyone stands up, puts their hand on their heart, and sings the national anthem.” Finally, the phrase “from the bottom of (one’s) heart” means sincerely: “Form the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best in your new job.”

bank

In this podcast, the phrase “eye bank” means a facility that stores corneas (parts of an eye) that were taken from the bodies of people who have died, and keeps them healthy until they can be used to restore sight for another person: “Does the eye bank thank the families of people who have donated their corneas?” A “blood bank” is a similar facility that stores donated blood until patients need it: “The blood bank is looking for donors with the A-positive blood type.” Finally, a “piggy bank” is a small container, traditionally in the shape of a pig, with a small opening on top, used to store coins to save up one’s money: “At the end of the day, Chuck takes whatever coins are in his pocket and puts them in a piggy bank.”

Culture Note
The History of Organ Donation

Organ donation has a long history, dating back to 1869 when the first skin transplant was performed. The first cornea transplant was performed in 1906 and the first kidney transplant was performed in 1954, between “twins” (two people who are born at the same time to the same mother). The “medical community” (doctors and other healthcare professionals) began “recovering” (getting; collecting) organs from “deceased” (dead) “donors” (people who give something) in the early 1960s.

In 1968, a committee at Harvard University established the first definition of “brain death” (the condition where a body is still functioning and the organs are still alive, but the brain is no longer responsive and the person is considered dead). That same year, the first organ “procurement” (the process of getting and/or buying something) organization was opened in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a drug to improve “transplant outcomes” (whether a transplant is successful) by reducing the “potential” (the likelihood or probability that something will happen) of organ “rejection” (when the recipient’s body fights against the transplanted organ).

The following year, the U.S. Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which “prohibits” (does not allow) the sale of organs and “ensures” (makes happen) the “equitable” (just; fair) distribution of organs to the patients who need them.

In 2003, April was “designated” (named and intended for a particular purpose) National Donate Life month. In recent years, many government agencies and nonprofit organizations have launched initiatives in that month and throughout the year to increase interest and participation in organ donation.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b