Organ Players

Letters from the week of April 3, 2003

Heart to Heart

Heartless: I read your article "Lost Hearts" in New Times this week (Amy Silverman, March 27). My husband, Donald Westendorf, died on April 7, 2002, after waiting three and a half years for a heart transplant. This article really angers me because I feel his death was UNNECESSARY! I would be more than happy to talk with you about this issue. My husband and I started volunteering at Donor Network of Arizona shortly after he was put on the transplant list in November 1998. I am very disheartened by your story.

I received a document from DNA refuting some of the allegations. I am glad to hear things have improved at DNA, but it is far too late to relieve my anger about my husband not receiving the gift of life!

Janis Westendorf
Via e-mail

Hearts and flowers: If you can please put this in the paper, I live in Michigan and I just read your article "Lost Hearts." My son was 34 years old with a wife and young daughter when he died. He had been on the heart transplant list in Arizona for four years.

I am an RN and I have never heard of such people working for a group that don't have the brains "God gave a goose." How could RNs be allowed to even keep their licenses with the type of job they performed? I am ashamed to say I was even thinking about moving to Arizona and working there. I don't think I even want to live in a state that possibly allowed my son to die because of their incompetence.

My husband died four days before my son died. If he had still been alive, this would have killed him. We were so happy that he was living in a state that had a good record for transplants. I can see now that we were terribly mistaken. I would not work in a state that murdered my son.

Is this okay? Or have I been too nice?

Name withheld by request

Med to order: Arnie Serota would go to the end of the Earth to place a healthy organ. And, in fact, he did. Arizona and the transplant community are the real losers here. Not only was Dr. Serota the most dedicated and able medical professional I know (I saw him cry when he learned the Tucson heart wasn't placed), but more severely: We're stuck with Donor Network of Arizona.

Alison B. McDonald
former Scottsdale Healthcare employee
Scottsdale

Map Quest

Spin doctors: I hurt myself laughing over your map ("Terrorists' Guide to Arizona," Tony Ortega and Rand Carlson, March 27). Thanks a lot! You'll be hearing from my lawman, uh, lawyer.

Diane Greene
Phoenix

G.I. No

Military intelligence: The reasons older individuals are not allowed in the general military population is because of their health problems, not their 20-year retirement ("Patriotic Pang," Spiked, March 27). I spent more than 10 years in the active Air Force and one of my jobs was deciding who was worldwide qualified for deployment. Older individuals have their bad habits catch up with them: too much salt/hypertension, overweight, 20 years of cigarette smoking, too much booze and not enough liver left, coronary/peripheral vascular disease just ready to fail, environmental cancers, all other cancers.

If these problems happen, the military is on the hook for disability insurance and lifelong VA health care. Instead of asking a recruiter why they refuse older citizens, you should have talked to an HMO insurance adjuster. The military does the same thing: They cherry-pick the healthy population and forget about the older generation for health-care reasons.

Tell Don Surovec to buck up. He can always get a civilian job working for the military. There are thousands of them.

Name withheld by request

One-Man Woman

You go, girl: Mormon belief of "celestial law of polygamy" ("Fornicating for God," John Dougherty, March 20) lowers afterlife and heaven to just another hellhole for women. Get rid of it!

Astrida Bertleson
Mesa

Name-calling: I am responding to the article printed in the March 20 edition. I thought that you may like to know that there is some inaccurate information in the article. First of all, the proper distinction needs to be made between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church) and the Fundamentalists that have either been excommunicated or pertain to an entirely different group that has branched off, in most cases, well over a hundred years ago.

The statement was made by the author that the Smart girl who was kidnapped was obedient to Brian Mitchell because quote: "Obedience to men is stressed in Mormon culture." I find this statement very offensive, and it couldn't be further from the truth. Since John Dougherty is stereotyping, why doesn't he call Jews stingy, and blacks criminals?

I lived in Hurricane, Utah, for about eight years. It is located about 40 miles from the Hildale/Colorado City area which is a polygamist community. How about researching the ways that they avoid paying taxes and how they milk the welfare system? It is important to get the truth out about their illegal activities and not support and promote stereotypes about "Mormons" that are unfounded.

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