Former vice-president of the US Dick Cheney got a new heart. I wouldn’t even have known this if it weren’t for Facebook. Really amazing how social media improve our lives (…I need an ironic smiley face here). One of my friends posted about Cheney’s heart. He doubted it would do him any good considering that in his opinion Cheney was ‘one of the world’s most heartless people anyhow’. Someone else commented: ‘Talk about getting your priorities wrong!’ while a third one thought that getting a new heart might be a humbling experience for any politician. I answered that I hoped it would be, but that if a few random people get to decide about who gets a new heart and who doesn’t, youcould be the one not to get a heart transplant. ‘Humbling, you wish’, I got back. ‘More like “I’ve got the money, so I’ll get what I want, when I want it.” Cheney is an asshole.’ I wrote back: ‘You may not like it, but if he needs one, he ought to get a transplant. How he uses his new heart is a different matter.’ No further comments followed.
Which worried me. Facebook may not be an ideal platform to discuss ethics, but to bluntly state that someone does not deserve medical care? I wouldn’t want those Facebook friends to decide about my health. I would like the people who do decide about what kind of healthcare I get to be wise, blessed with a balanced sense of ethics and huge, huge hearts of gold, overflowing with love, understanding and compassion.
I kept thinking about Dick Cheney’s heart all day.
Because, although I liked playing the devil’s advocate, I secretly agree with my friends. While one’s right to health care may have been of some importance when deciding that Cheney would be next in line for a transplant, care, compassion and hearts of gold in all likelihood were not. If Dick Cheney had been an uninsured illegal Mexican construction worker, he wouldn’t even have made it on to the waiting list.