video clip of the woman who had her face ripped off by a chimpanzee, and her hands too. It was over at the ABC news website, and I couldn't resist. And yes, the image has been haunting me, as appparently it's been haunting a lot of people. Two of the blogs I read referred to the woman last week, and Jon Stewart talked about her with Jane Goodall a couple of nights ago.
There are lessons to be learned here about how animals are not humans dressed up in costumes and (according to Goodall) about how chimpanzees shouldn't be kept in captivity. But what's really haunting is...the face. It just seems so unfair. She's exactly the same person underneath, but with a face people find horrifying, how will she "interface" with the world? Will people stand by her--like her daughter, her twin brother, and her friends?
Let's hope so. Here's something that struck me when I read about the woman's situation. She needs both a face transplant and a hand transplant, but she's been told she isn't eligible for a hand transplant, since she's now blind. She doesn't explain why there's this policy, but I'm guessing that hands suitable for transplant are very rare and priority is given to the patient who can get the most good out of them. If you can see, you can do more with your hands than if you can't see. (Anybody have a better grip on why organ registries might have this policy?)
But there's another way of thinking about this. Perhaps hands should go first not to the person who can get the most benefit out of them, but to the person who's especially badly off. The multiply afflicted patient seems to merit special consideration, even if her multiple disabilities would stop any particular part-donation from having the maximum benefit.
Does it make sense to give spare hands to the person who's most nearly normal, and can therefore get the most use out of them, or to someone who would be saved from much greater misery by the donation? The former approached to distributing "spare parts" has a certain logic to it, but so does the latter.
In short--give this woman some hands! I hope her association with Oprah will help her get the care she needs.