Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

June 10, 2005

Help Save a Life

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:02 pm

Folks, I’m completely serious here. A life is in danger in Canada due to a combination of one hospital’s backwards idea of “ethics,” and the bureacratic requirements of Canada’s so-called “universal” health care system. This is not about a brain-damaged person whose right to life would be questioned like Terri Schiavo’s — the patient is alive and talking, but he is in renal failure and needs a kidney transplant. A match has been found, but the Canadian “universal” health care system is refusing to do the operation.

Baruch Tegegne

Donations are needed to get this fellow out of Canada. I’ve already donated, and I hope you will too. Here’s the story:

Baruch Tegegne, the man credited with rescuing hundreds if not thousands of his fellow Ethiopian Jews from famine and death, is now in a fight for his own life.

In the second group of Ethiopian Jews brought to Israel in the 1950′s by Israel’s second president Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi and educated in AMIT religious schools, Baruch met a Canadian Jewish woman in Israel. They married and moved to Montreal 1979.

His dramatic escape by foot from Ethiopia in 1974 to get to Israel and his activism for rescue of Ethiopian Jews was featured in the 1983 documentary “Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews.”

Among those supportive of Baruch’s rescue efforts was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, considered by many to be the leading Orthodox rabbinic scholar of the last half of the 20th century.

Now 61, Baruch has advanced kidney disease caused by diabetes. He undergoes dialysis four times a week at the Jewish General Hospital. His health is rapidly deteriorating.

But his fight is against more than advanced kidney disease. It is against the state-controlled Canadian health system.

A group of his friends led by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici searched for a person willing to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.

They found one, Shree Dhar, through a website that connects live persons willing to donate an organ – without compensation – to strangers.

But Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital refuses to do the transplant for what it claims are “ethical” reasons.

Dr. Douglas Keith, head of the hospital’s living donor transplant program, says the hospital could not be sure there is no “quid pro quo” agreement between Tegegne and Dhar. He also says the donation looks suspicious because the donor is from the Third World and contact was made on the Internet.

Dhar has repeatedly stated that his motives are pure, and that he is not looking for money or to immigrate to Canada.

He says he is motivated by religious conviction and is moved by Tegegne’s story. Dhar also wants to honor his grandfather, an Indian army general who died of kidney disease.

“I believe G-d will be with me,” he said.

Canada has no law prohibiting altruistic donations from unrelated persons.

Calls to American transplant centers confirmed that altruistic donations of this type are regularly accepted throughout the United States.

A leading opponent of altruistic transplants is leading Canadian bio-ethicist and professor of philosophy Dr. Arthur Shafer. Shafer’s take on the Terri Schiavo case is telling – he was quoted as saying that Schiavo’s brain stem had “turned to mush” and that Schiavo – who was starved to death by court order two months ago – was a “vegetable.”

In Tegene’s case, Canada’s Doctor of Death is no less clear. While smirking on Canadian television Dr. Schafer asserted that if Tegegne’s potential donor was “truly altruistic,” he would donate his kidney to someone closer to home. Following that convoluted logic, no altruistic live-donor organ donation could ever take place.

Jacobovici accuses Royal Victoria Hospital of “arrogance, paranoia and racism” because, [like Dr. Schafer,] “it assumes that anyone donating kidney, especially if they are from the Third World, are doing it for the money and not for noble reasons.

“They’re treating live donors as guilty until proven innocent and thousands of Canadians are left to die as a result.”

Each year, 200 Canadians die waiting for transplants.

And under [Canadian] federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act, so there is no competition – and nowhere else to turn for help.

But in Baruch Tegegne’s case, the Canadian system becomes even more bizarre.

A live donor, altruistic transplant with a donor found over the Internet has been done at Toronto General Hospital.

But Tegegne cannot simply fly to Toronto to save his life. Canadian national healthcare is not portable. Toronto is in the provence of Ontario. Montreal is in Quebec. Except for emergency, non-elective care, Toronto will not pay for a Montreal citizen’s healthcare.

Even though Tegegne needs the transplant to save his life, the transplant is not considered emergency care, so the man who risked his life to save hundreds from certain death now waits quietly for his own.

Michael Bergman, a noted Montreal lawyer is providing pro bono representation for Tegegne. But Tegegne’s health makes a protracted legal battle impossible. He simply doesn’t have the time.

So Jacobovici and friends have begun raising $200,000 to pay for a transplant outside of Canada. They launched a website, www.TransplantNow.org, and got to work.

An Israeli hospital agreed has agreed to do the transplant. It also cut $70,000 from its fee.

The Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel – the poorest of Israel’s poor – raised $20,000 from its own members.

And donations have come in from those who have found Baruch’s story on the Internet.

Still, $100,000 is still needed.

“We’re at the crunch point now,” Jacobovici notes. “We’ve got about a month to get this done.”

Tegegne’s story clearly demonstrates the danger of a state-controlled healthcare system. But it also provides the opportunity to send a message and demonstrate that protecting human life is the most important moral value, one that trumps socialized medicine and doctors of death every time.

Direct, secure online donations can be made through the Sha’arei Dayah Foundation: https://www.charitybox.com/sdf or www.BoutiqueTzedaka.org and are tax deductible in the United States. All funds received will go directly to Tegegne’s transplant.

Checks should be mailed to:

The Sha’arei Dayah Foundation
2136 Ford Parkway #181
Saint Paul, MN 55116

(Please put “kidney” in the memo line of your check.)

I donated using a credit card and the https://www.charitybox.com/sdf link. Be sure to print your receipt (if you want a paper copy) right away, otherwise the page may “expire” and become unprintable.

Also, do visit the www.TransplantNow.org website. It’s got a lot more details, both on the Canada problem, and on Mr. Tegegne’s story in general. And, hopefully they will be posting updates. I’m planning to check back regularly.

Also, I see that PowerLine has picked up the story. Let’s have a blog-storm for this!

Will Canada Legalize Private Health Insurance?

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:42 pm

Those of you who are all gung-ho to see the private cultivation of “medical” marijuana legalized in the U.S. don’t know the half of it. In Canada, even private health insurance is illegal (except for services not covered by the Canada Health Act). In fact, it’s even illegal to pay your own money for health care!

But as one reader alerted me, this may be about to change — in a very “American” way, that is, by a lawsuit:

The case involved Quebec doctor Jacques Chaoulli and his patient George Zeliotis who argued that the ban on buying private insurance for health care infringed on Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Quebec Charter of Rights.

Zeliotis said his year-long wait for a hip replacement in 1997 violated his right to life, liberty and security under the Canadian charter, and a similar guarantee in the Quebec charter.

The [Canadian] Supreme Court split on whether the law violated the Canadian charter, but four of the seven justices who considered the case ruled that it violated the Quebec charter.

[Dr.] Chaoulli has long campaigned for the right to set up a private medical business, and once went on a hunger strike over the issue.

Needless to say, defenders of the status quo are panicked:

Even though the ruling has direct application only in Quebec, there was widespread agreement that it will lead to similar cases in other provinces, and increase the already strong tendencies toward a two-tier system.

“This is the end of medicare as we know it,” said John Williamson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “This is a breach in government monopoly health care in this country.

“It’s going to open up litigation across the country in the other nine provinces as taxpayers there press for the same right which is the right to seek and buy insurance to cover private health care.”

The Canadian Medical Association called it a “historic” ruling that could “fundamentally change the health-care system in Canada as we now know it.”

In Quebec City, interim Parti Quebecois Leader Louise Harel said Quebec’s public health system is threatened and she urged Premier Jean Charest to defend it.

Charest had no immediate reaction, saying he wanted to read the judgment.

Well, that sounds like a good idea. I’m always in favor of reading. ;-)

UPDATE (6/15/05): The Wall Street Journal has commented on this case in an editorial. Good reading.

America’s Second Harvest

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:27 pm

A reader wrote to me today asking me to post this:

In honor of National Hunger Awareness Day, the Dannon Company has joined with America’s Second Harvest to help feed America’s children, by launching a special new area on their Web site. The page features a graphical “giving” button and every time this button is clicked, it will trigger a $1 donation — or the equivalent of 15 meals — to America’s Second Harvest up to a total of $75,000. Once the donation button is clicked, each user will also have the opportunity to let a friend know about it via a special Dannon/America’s Second Harvest e-card. When this e-card is sent, the original $1 donation will be doubled!


America’s Second Harvest is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Its network of more than 200 food banks supports local charitable agencies and operates food programs, including:

  • Food Pantries
  • Soup Kitchens
  • Women’s Shelters
  • Community Kitchens

These local organizations provide emergency food assistance to 23 million hungry Americans, including more than nine million children each year.

Now keep in mind that by clicking on the above, you are not donating $1 yourself — you are telling Dannon to donate $1. It is one of my basic principles that being charitable with other people’s money doesn’t count as being charitable — but there is nothing wrong with encouraging someone else to be charitable, so go ahead and click. I did. Oddly, I didn’t see a link on that page to donate your own money, but I’m sure you all know worthy causes you can donate to. If not, you might consider this one, which I mentioned on Memorial Day.

(I also have another cause in the pipeline for a future post.)

Nixon vs. Clinton

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:34 pm

In a previous post, I quoted an article by Ben Stein on the Deep Throat revelation, in which Stein said:

Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW’s, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel’s life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?

Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied. How remarkable. …

That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton – a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon’s kharma.

“MG” wrote an extensive comment. I responded to most of what he wrote in another comment, but he raised one issue I think is worth of a wider discussion. MG wrote:

If Richard Nixon deserves to be evaluated on the basis of his major accomplishments (or failures) and not merely on the side-scandal of Watergate, as Stein argues, the same objectivity must be afforded to Bill Clinton.

I agree, let’s do it! Please list Bill Clinton’s major accomplishments so we can get started.

(Use the comment section on this post.)

Forced to be a “suicide” bomber

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:01 am

Clayton Cramer reports on evidence that at least some of the “suicide bombers” in Iraq are being tied and/or bound with tape to their car-bombs:

FORT STEWART, Ga. (AP) — Iraqi insurgents appear to be forcing some followers to commit suicide car bombings by tying or binding them inside explosive-carrying vehicles, the commanding general of allied security forces in Baghdad said Wednesday.

“In one case, Iraqi police found pieces of a car after it exploded which included an accelerator pedal that had the suicide bomber’s foot still taped to it, so that you can’t chicken out and leave,” Maj. Gen. William G. Webster told reporters in a video conference from Baghdad.

“We’ve found some people who were literally tied or taped to the steering wheel, reported by Iraqis who saw them just before detonation with their hands tied to the steering wheel,” he said.

As Clayton points out:

These bombs are probably remote controlled–after forcing the drivers in at gunpoint, I would guess that the “insurgents” tape them in place so that they can’t get out very quickly. If it takes more than a second or two to exit the car, that is enough time for the guy holding the remote control to set off the bomb.

In other words, they’re being forced to kill themselves, and to take others with them.
The remote control ensures they can’t kill their captors instead of innocent Iraqis or Americans. I’m not sure this counts as “suicide” bombing, actually — the “bomber” doesn’t really want to die.

Clayton also points out that Michael Moore called the Iraqi terrorists the moral equivalent of the Minutemen. He also asks,

Why does the left love these people so much? Because the left has a long history of making excuses for mass murder.

The left in America and Europe has indeed made excuses for — and in some case outwardly supported — the mass murder of Lenin in the 1920s, Stalin in the 1930s, Mao in the 1950s, Fidel Castro in the 1960s, Pol Pot in the 1970s, and Daniel Ortega in the 1980s, and Saddam Hussein in the 1990s and 2000s, and the Islamofascist Wahabbi “insurgents” in Iraq today. Meanwhile, they were utterly silent about the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s, and are ramping up for a campaign against intervention in Darfur right now. How anyone can think — or for that matter, could have thought at any time in the last 80 years — that the left has the moral high ground is utterly beyond me.

The moral bankruptcy of the left is exceeded only by the unspeakable cruelty of the Islamofascist terrorists.

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