Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A few nights after the ice cream discussion, C & I were watching a French program that was following around this French couple. The wife had end-stage kidney disease, and her husband had decided to donate one of his kidneys to her. My first thought was "Oh, that's really sweet" and then I didn't think anything more of it, but C's reaction (along with everyone else on the program) was more so along the lines of "Is he crazy?" Apparently organ donation is a fairly rare occurrence in France - and it's true that once I started thinking about it, I couldn't ever remember hearing about anyone doing it.

Then again, the laws in France also complicate the matter somewhat. Up until a few years back, you could only donate to your parent, sibling or child. In 2004, they finally changed it to include grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins or spouses - but it's still illegal to donate to a friend, co-worker, etc. All of this has acted together to make organ donation a lot more rare in France. So I was explaining to C how it worked in MN, and even brought out my drivers license to show how you could check on the back of the box if you wanted to be an organ donor and he was really surprised.

But getting back to the show - I could not believe that the rest of this woman's family refused to donate an organ to her - some of them wouldn't even get tested to see if they were a match! The general consensus was "But if we give one kidney to her, we'll only have one left, and what if something happens to that one?" Even her parents said they wouldn't give one to one another. And then it was my turn to be flabbergasted - I couldn't believe that people would actually prefer to let their daughter/sister be on a wait list (and potentially die) than donate an organ.

It's obviously a bit too early on to be asking C whether or not he would donate a kidney to me, so I asked if he would donate one to his mother or his sister - and he was so shocked I had even asked. He said he never even thought about it before and that he wasn't going to think about it because it wasn't a choice he currently had to make. But here I was thinking that it was important to have considered this kind of stuff, because it might happen some day.

It's funny though, because it also made me think about how most of the Frenchmen I know in Paris are just as Americanized as Fab was (if not more). And C has so many sides that aren't typically French, but every once in a while, I get caught off-guard by just how French he really is. I guess it's going to keep me on my toes, but it does make me wonder if we're not in for some interesting discussions (arguments?) ahead.

Though for the sake of our relationship, it has already been decided that the "No, peanut butter is not any worse than nutella" argument is officially off-limits.

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Blogger Greg said...

I'm an organ donor in New Zealand. I wonder if they'll ship bits of me 'home' should I die.

Peanut butter is 120% better than Nutella. I actually came across some Skippy PB today (which I grew up with). Overpriced but now sitting in the cupboard.

December 22, 2009 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

Just read this on the NYT and thought you might be interested:

December 23, 2009 at 2:03 AM  
Blogger Tamara said...

I've got a young son who will eventually need a kidney. Scary prospect knowing that the conversation isn't theoretical for us. At any rate, I have an American friend whose daughter needed a kidney, and the girls father (not american) was really against donating his own kidney (he was a perfect match, and no one else in the family matched) but he eventually did. All are doing well.

December 23, 2009 at 2:10 AM  
Blogger deedeeinfrance said...

20 years later, I am still surprised by the "Frenchness" of my husband when it comes to some of our disagreements. I guess that keeps things spiced up for us.
Merry Christmas Samantha,

December 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 23, 2009 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

you know what's creepy? For some reason, Max and I had the kidney donation discussion the other day (not sure why...we weren't watching that program you were) and he said he'd donate a kidney to me. No questions asked. And when I visited his sister in the Alps a few weeks ago, she had mentioned that when she dies, she's donating her organs. So I guess it's SOME French people that have 'traditional' views on organ donation and not all.

On an unrelated note, Max and I have had our fair share of arguments over the Peanut Butter/Nutella debate. I try (and fail) to calmly explain that peanut butter has a ton more good things in it than sugar laden nutella (hello, protein?) but he doesnt buy it. And one minute he says he hates peanut butter (c'est trop gras!!) and the next he's shovelling Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in his mouth as fast as I can unpeel them from their little plastic liner.

December 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Andromeda said...

Pretty much any argument I've had with my bf has been because of cultural differences that we weren't aware of before, so it's been quite the learning experience! I feel like we should just make a list of "how we do it in my country," thus avoiding all future disagreements.

I wonder if the organ donor thing has to do with donating in general. Since there is a lot more reliance on state aid, there is less individual initiative for philanthropy in France. Maybe people figure the government will take care of you even when you need organs since they take care of almost everything else? Also, since charitable giving is traditionally linked to religion, and the separation of church and state is so different in France than the states, that maybe factors in too. Though donating blood seems fairly common here, which is nice.

My bf also hates peanut butter, but loves peanut butter m&ms, lol. Must be the sugar.

December 24, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Cécy said...

I think there is obviously a difference between giving organs while you are alive and when you are dead.
If you die, things are made a bit easier in most US states where you can get it added on your DL. In France you have to go through the process of ordering an Organ Donor card that you sign and should keep in your wallet (I have one).
I don't know so much about live donations but whether in France or the USA I've known for quite a while that I wanted to be an organ donnor, I mean what use will it be to me? And I'd rather spare my family from having to make that decision for me if anything was to happen.

December 25, 2009 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

That's a very interesting discussion. We do not talk a lot about donating organs in France so we do not even think about it.
Thinking that a father would think more than 2 seconds about giving one of his organ to his son or her daughter kills me...
I'll explore the donor card stuff (thanks Cécy) because I'd be more than happy to help someone.

December 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am really late but indeed, you can have an organ donor card in France if you wish to donate your organs after you die.

May 29, 2010 at 4:27 AM  

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