Sunday, February 12, 2017
Hearts, Valentines and Maylis de Kerengal
The illustration is a Valentine heart, made with a not-too-steady hand in Photoshop. Nice to know that I don't do much cardiac surgery, right?
As it happens, though, I've been reading the wonderful novel by Maylis de Kerengal, variously called Réparer les vivants (in French) or Mending the Living (translation by Jennifer Moore) or The Heart translation by Sam Taylor. In it, a young man dies and his heart and other organs are donated to others. Sounds gruesome, but it is exalting. The French is poetic, evocative and engrossing, while the translations (why there are two, I haven't been able to determine, but both are quite good in their own way) carry the reader along through all the agony of the young man's family and medical professionals who will see that he lives on in others.
In France, organ donation is the default situation: a person must opt out, or it is assumed that he or she has agreed to have organs donated. In North America, the reverse is the norm, so that unless one has specifically signed a statement approving donation, they won't be. I'd always been a bit ambivalent about this, and while I've signed the statement on my driver's license agreeing to donation, I had no strong position. After reading the novel, I'm far more positive. Read it, and check out where you can sign up. In Canada: here. In the US: here.