Who's asking: Me
I couldn't find statistics for this on a world-wide basis, but the Department of Health and Human Services says that 17 Americans a day die waiting for a transplant that could save their lives.
On Sunday, one of those 17 people was Barbara Seranella, the author of No Human Involved and seven other novels featuring outlaw-turned-businesswoman Miranda "Munch" Mancini. Barbara's ninth book, a standalone called Deadman's Switch, is due out this April.
As awful and stupid as it sounds, Barbara was one of the lucky ones. She'd already had not one, but two liver transplants; her body rejected the first, and they managed to find a second one in time to save her life. When it became clear that this one wasn't working either, Barbara remained upbeat and active -- at Bouchercon in October, she was gray-faced but radiant.
I didn't know her well, only as bookseller/fan to author, but her visits to The Mystery Bookstore were always an event, even before she got sick. She was funny as hell, and she would say anything -- she had done so much and seen so much in her life that shocking the uptight was the last thing she worried about. And she was kind, kind in a no-nonsense way that sought no credit; many southern California writers can tell stories about the contacts she made for them or the advice she gave.
She was only 50 years old when she ran out of time on Sunday. The best tribute to her I can think of would be for everyone who reads this to go, right now, and print out an organ donor card here. Sign it and put it in your wallet, and tell your family you've done it.
One organ donor can help as many as 50 people. One of those 50 might write the next great American novel -- or direct another great movie, like heart-transplant recipient Robert Altman -- or just get to celebrate one more Christmas with her family.
It's not like any of us will need our organs in the next life.