, ,

Say What?! Answering tough questions in our advocacy

LET+IT (1).png

Here’s a fun email I got from a fantastic advocate:

Hello Brianna, did you see the article about the young man who had an…innovative new type of transplant in South Africa this week? What do I say if someone asks me about that at an event for Donate Life?

Great question! If someone asks you about a new advancement in transplantation, it’s always good to start with the facts, add on some kindness, and end with a fact.

Like THIS–Well, that’s not currently an approved procedure in the US. Different doctors, in different countries, are making medical advancements all the time. This is specific to South Africa (in this case).”

THEN KINDNESS–“Donation and transplantation can help a lot of people who have serious injuries and illnesses…it’s pretty incredible. That said, this is not currently happening in the US.”

OR–“I’m not a doctor, but what I can tell you is this. I would be happy if someone I cared about could be helped through amazing medical advancements and the compassion of a heroic donor. That said, this is not currently happening in the US.”

OR–“I can tell you that if someone I cared about had such a devastating injury, I would be very grateful if brilliant doctors and a compassionate donor could help them heal and live a normal life. That said, this is not currently happening in the US.”

OR–“Gosh, if this was someone I cared about, I sure wouldn’t want people to speculate about their condition…what I can tell you is, I’m grateful that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are helped through donation and transplantation every single year! That said, this is not currently happening in the US.”

So, start with a fact, add in some kindness, and end with a fact. I hope that helps!

Do you have a question about donation or transplantation that is hard to answer? Email me, and I’ll happily share my ideas!

, , ,

Say What?! Tissue Donation in the News

It’s been an interesting few days for people who follow media stories about tissue donation!

My inbox has been busy, too. I got this email from a donor mother late Saturday night, joining about a dozen others:

Brianna, I don’t know what to say when people tell me I murdered my baby he was already gone. I think my family doesn’t understand what I did becaues (sic) of the news story that was on the tv. Do you know wwhat (sic) to say to them.

Heartbreaking! I hate to see a special family like this hurting. And yes, I am here to help.
 
Since the Planned Parenthood/fetal tissue for research story hasn’t gone away yet, here’s a little help for the donor families and donation supporters out there.

PLEASE NOTE: the best advice I can give you is that we don’t want to seek out these tough conversations. We would rather respond kindly to misinformation than go out and find an argument. 

That said, sometimes hurtful and misinformed statements come your way. Let’s talk about how we talk about donation!

First and foremost, it’s important to #SeparateTheDebate. The debate over women’s health issues, like termination, is not the same debate as one over the legality or ethics of tissue donation. So, when I saw some inflammatory stories in my own friends’ Facebook feeds, I messaged each friend who posted with this respectful note:

Hi (friend)!

I wanted to reach out because I saw the Planned Parenthood story on your feed. You know, good people can disagree about a lot of issues. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever have questions about how tissue donation for research saves lives, and paying for the safe storage, transport, and containment of tissue donation is legal and sensible, I’m here.

We definitely don’t have to talk about Planned Parenthood, but I did want you to know that as a donor family, we know firsthand that donation for transplant AND research saves lives, and I’m happy to tell you more about how it works.

Love, Brianna

See what I did there? I separated donation from the fiery debate about Planned Parenthood. That’s an important first step!
Separate+the+Debate.png
Next, if people continue to post articles that talk about the *selling* of tissue, take careful, calm, and thoughtful action. I posted this to my own Facebook and Twitter feed.
Screen+Shot+2015-07-20+at+12.08.39+PM.png
Screen+Shot+2015-07-20+at+12.09.17+PM.png
Finally, if you would like to point people to a technical, academic source for talking about the bioethical issues around fetal tissue donation, here’s a blog post I wrote with a bioethicist colleague at the American Journal of Bioethics. We talk about some of the finer points of separating the debate.

Reading through some of the resources I have linked to, you might surmise that I have personal political beliefs that may or may not align with yours. It’s okay to disagree about these tough issues! We can all engage in respectful discourse without demeaning the compassionate gifts of millions of American families–gifts of donation, transplantation, and research.

For me, I want to protect the gift, protect the intention, and protect the outcome–for life saving transplants and medical research. I hope this installment of “Say What?!” can support you if a difficult conversation comes your way! Remember, separate the debate!

This has been an installment of the “Say What?!” series. Do you have a question about donation or transplantation that is hard to answer? Email me, and I’ll happily share my ideas! You can read the first two installments of the series here.

LET+IT (1)

 

, , , , ,

Day Three: Staying Passionate, Positive, and On-point for National Donate Life Month!

Today’s tip is a part of my new “Say What?!” series, where I help you answer tough questions from the public about donation and transplantation.

LET+IT (1)

Many of you have probably seen the tragic story about the young man in Georgia, a heart recipient, who died in a high-speed chase with police.

Sometimes, with stories like this, people might ask you: “Why did this kid get a transplant? And not someone else?”

Or: “Do you think that he should have received a transplant?”

If you have attended any Positive Rhetoric trainings, you might have an idea of what I’m going to say next.

First, acknowledge the tragedy. Whatever your personal opinion might be, we can all agree that this is a very sad story.

“Bad things happen in this world. That story is very tragic, on many levels.”

OR

“I was very sad when I read that story.”

Next, inquire.

“Do you have any questions for me about how the transplant wait list works? It’s held by an organization called UNOS, which is separate from Donate Life, but they do the important work of matching gifts of life to those who need them.”

Then, give a statement of confidence in the medical professionals who make donation and transplantation possible.

“It’s a complex task, and I believe they are good people doing good work to save as many lives as they can through donation and transplantation.”

Finally, empathize.

“Gosh, I don’t know all the facts of this young man’s journey. You know, I wish we didn’t have to have a “LIST“–that EVERYONE who needed a life-saving transplant could receive one. My heart breaks for his family, and all those families on this difficult path of organ transplant.”

If someone continues to question you about the situation, keep pivoting back to one of my favorite tools: empathy.

“You know, if this was my child, I sure wouldn’t want people to speculate about the situation…what I can tell you is, I’m grateful that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are helped through donation and transplantation every single year.”

Do you have a question about donation or transplantation that is hard to answer? Email me, and I’ll happily share my ideas!