Somewhere under the immobilizer, ace wrap, bandages, and stitches—somewhere, in fact, under the skin, flesh, and bones—there is something going on that I have yet to wrap my head around. I am a man bordering on middle age (or solidly there, depending on how you calculate it), yet I now have some very young parts. The cartilage transplanted into my knee came from two separate donors. They are, and will remain to me, anonymous, but I know that they were children.
I thought I had come to grips with having cadaver parts placed within me. I am wondering if it was because I am “only” receiving cartilage that I initially felt like my involvement was peripheral to the donor’s true gifts (the big ones: heart, kidney, liver, etc.). A few spare parts for me? Not a big deal? I pictured nameless, faceless cadavers in medical school anatomy classes, all of them there by their own generous choice, but that’s not correct in this case, is it? By the very nature of my procedure, the donors had to be less than twelve years old—too young for the child to have made a legal decision to have his or her body used to donate organs and tissues. Someone else had to allow it. A mother. A father. Or, I suspect, perhaps both needed to provide permission?