Thursday, October 28, 2010
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Anna Fitzgerald's older sister, Kate, suffers from a disease known as acute promyelocytic leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. According to Anna's parents, the whole reason behind her birth in the first place was so that the blood from her umbilical cord could be used in treatments to help save her sister Kate. The treatment is initially successful; however, Kate relapses, and since then, Anna is used as a donor for all other bodily substances that are needed to help save Kate's life; Anna is the only match. Anna is usually willing to donate whatever Kate needs, but one day she is told that she needs to donate one of her kidneys in order to keep Kate alive. The surgery is not completely guaranteed to work. Anna gets a lawyer named Campbell Alexander involved so that he can help her make her own decisions about the medical treatment and whether or not to go through with donating the kidney. Anna's mother, Sara, is an ex-lawyer; therefore, she decides to represent both herself and her husband in the lawsuit regarding Anna's kidney. Throughout the novel, Sara tries to convince Anna to get rid of the lawsuit, but she refuses. Anna and her mother are constantly fighting, so Anna moves out of the house to go live with her father named Brian in the fire station where he works. Anna and Kate's brother, Jesse, is ignored due to Kate's illness, so he spends the majority of his time getting into trouble with fire and drugs. He is a juvenile delinquent; however, he goes on to graduate from a police academy at the end of the novel. During the trial, it is revealed that Kate asked Anna to sue because Kate did not want Anna to transplant her kidney on her behalf and also because she thinks that she is going to die soon anyway. At the end of the trial, the judge rules in Anna's favor and gives Campbell, her lawyer, medical power. As Campbell is driving Anna home after the trail, a truck smashes into their car. Anna's father comes to her rescue, but she has suffered an injury to the head and is unconscious. Campbell has only suffered a slight injury to his arm. When they all arrive at the hospital, the doctor declares Anna brain-dead and asks them if they would consider organ donation. Campbell walks into the room and boldly states that there is a girl on the upstairs floor of the hospital that desperately needs Anna's kidney. Meanwhile, Kate is prepped for surgery and eventually Anna's kidney is successfully transplanted. Kate survives the transplant surgery but goes into remission. The remainder of Anna's useable organs are removed so that they can be used for future transplants. Kate stays in remission for about six years. Not only did Anna sacrifice her kidney for her sister, but also she essentially dies so that her sister can live.
1). If you were in Anna's situation and knew that the only reason your parents had you was to try to save their other sick child, would you be willing to help in any way possible? Why or why not? What if you did not know that this was your parent's plan and it was merely a matter of helping your sibling, would you help?
2). Do you think Kate really meant what she said in the courtroom when she said she did not want Anna to give up her kidney on her behalf, or do you think she was merely trying to look "good" in front of the judge and her family?
3). When people obtain drivers' licenses, they get to decide if they want to be an organ donor or not. Do you believe that this should be a choice or do you think it should be mandatory for people to register as organ donors? What is your stance on this issue, and do you believe in transplants?