Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lost in Transplantation Book Club Discussion Guide

 Book Club Discussion Guide for: Lost in Transplantation: Memoir of an Unconventional Organ Donor by Eldonna Edwards

1) Have you ever been the recipient of an unexpected gift? Were you able to accept that gift with grace? Did you pay it forward? Think about a time when you’ve done something nice for someone for no other reason than it felt like the right thing to do. How did it make you feel?
2) Have you ever reflected on your own life and felt a desire to make more of a difference? If so, what did you do? Did your efforts involve another human being, or a different sort of contribution? People often ask Ellie why she would give an organ to someone she didn’t know. What is your understanding of why she donated? Were you able to accept her motivation as truly altruistic?
3) Ellie is reimbursed for her medical and travel expenses but not for her lost wages. Do you think more donors would sign up if they were paid a stipend for their “pain and suffering?”  What are the ethical implications of paying donors for organs? What other incentives might drive people to donate?
4) Lucy refused Ellie’s offer to donate a kidney. Were you surprised by this?  Lucy’s choice brings up the issue of quality of life. If you were given the choice between near-daily medical treatments that kept you alive but in pain and uncomfortable, would you choose the treatment or would you prefer to just let nature take its course?
5) Ellie was raised in a strict, conservative evangelical home but refers to herself as “devoutly agnostic.” How much do you think Ellie’s upbringing influenced her altruism? Do you know anyone similar to Ellie? Do you think kindness and compassion are genetic traits or an attitude that is nurtured by family and community? Have you ever known anyone who seemed particularly sympathetic and kind? What effect did these qualities have on your life?
6) Kathy and Ellie end up becoming dear friends while waiting unsuccessfully for a paired match. How did you feel when Ellie decided to move forward with her donation in hopes of having surgery while she was young enough to recover more easily?  
7) The author shared her first kiss story and crossing over the crumbling road of her childhood.  Do you remember that moment for you? Was it a positive experience? What would you tell your younger self today if you could speak to them?
8) Before you read Lost in Transplantation were you aware of the tragic lack of organs for desperate patients? Do you know anyone who needs or has received an organ transplant? How would you feel if a friend, coworker, or family member asked you to be tested as a possible donor?
9) Ellie shares a lot of personal anecdotes about her childhood and adult life. Was there a favorite story or quote that stayed with you? Which one(s) and why did you relate to it?

10) Ellie was labeled the "free spirit" in her family? How would your family role be characterized? 
11) Ellie’s recipient turns out to be on the opposite end of her political and philosophical belief spectrum. She came to understand that this was a huge lesson in acceptance and giving with a warm hand. How do you think you would have responded to the outcome? How did you feel when you read about Mike? Were you happy for him?
12) As a single mother, Ellie is very close to her son. The only time she doubts her decision is after talking with Jacob on the phone right before surgery. How does their relationship compare to yours and your parents (or children)?
13) Is there anything you will view differently in your life after reading this book? Anything you will do differently?
14) The author’s next book is a coming-of-age novel. Will you seek out more works by this author? Why or why not?