Thursday, January 31, 2013

Handing it to arm transplants

News that a grievously wounded soldier is being given two “new” arms strengthens my conviction that men will one day shop at a store called “Dicks” and won’t be there for sporting goods.

Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco lost both legs and both arms to a 2009 roadside bomb attack near Baghdad.

And you thought you were having a bad day.

He is the only soldier to survive such a devastating loss.

I’m from a family that is avid about organ donation: eyes, heart, liver, kidneys, you name it, in due time come and get it.

My mother is going even a step further. She’s insisting her body be donated to science.

That means hours after she’s died, hungover pre-med students will be picking her apart like a cold Thanksgiving turkey and asking questions like, “Now what hell is that?”

The procedure involving Sgt. Marrocco, 26, has me full of questions no one bothered to ask at the brief John Hopkins press conference.

Primarily, who’s the donor?

This isn’t like getting someone’s old liver. Once functioning, new arms could alter your life. 

I tried to think of recent deaths of able-bodied deceased who might have in death given Marrocco a postmortem hand.

Well, two hands.

Me, I’d want some guns. I’d rather have the late Ernie Borgnine’s beefy arms than Jack Klugman’s noodles; as 2012 saw the death of two “Welcome Back Kotter” Sweathogs, I guess I’d rather have Epstein’s than Horshack’s old limbs.

Sure, Epstein’s arms were stubby, but I’d be afraid Horshack’s arm would always be shooting up in the air forcing me to go, “Ooh! Ooh!”

I guess there’s a chance some once vigorous young man could one day get my mother’s arms. She’s still what is commonly referred to as “spry,” but it would be tough for a twenty-something to have no rebuttal when his soldier buddies taunt him with, “You have the arms of a little old lady!”

Arm transplant is another reason to pause before getting a tattoo. It wouldn’t do for a girl to get a big, “I Love Burt!” tattoo on her upper arm knowing it one day might be transplanted onto the torso of a young man who may or may not be disposed to loving Burt.

I wonder what the impact of arm donations will be on Major League Baseball. Scouts used to beating the bushes for talent may now include local morgues as part of their rounds.

I’m fascinated by the possibilities and wonder what’s next. Because in life necessity soon gives way to vanity.

That’s the way it was when Ruth Handler, a breast cancer survivor, designed the first breast implants to to be mere utilitarian replacements for what was lost to surgery.

Look at the ta-ta trajectory of that procedure.

Handler, by the way, is more famous for another invention coincidentally renown for breasts. She is the creator of the Barbie Doll.

So who knows where arm transplants will lead?

Me, I’d like one really, really long arm so I could reach stuff up on the high shelves without having to resort to a step ladder. Plus, I’d be more popular on the pick-up basketball court where I’ve never been able to dunk.

I’m surprised more amputees don’t go in the direction of Swiss Army arms. It would be great to have an arm that concluded with had a corkscrew, a nail file and some little scissors at the end.

You could say it would be handy!

If I’m ever given the choice, my wish would be to get a pale Caucasian white arm, and a robust dark African American number for the opposite.

It would be a statement about the importance of cheerful race relations and I could get booked on all the morning shows playing “Ebony and Ivory” on the piano while performing both the Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney vocals simultaneously.

Like breast implants, maybe one day arm transplants will be common.

Of course, that might lead to an appendage shortage.

That brings me back to baseball.

I’d recommend surgeons visit the bullpen of the Pittsburgh Pirates every season around August where they will find a surplus of potential donors.

The place is by then always full of dead arms.

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