Marriage and Motorcycles.

Being married to a transplant physician tends to give one a different perspective on life, and in particular, risk taking. For example I’m embarrassed to admit I rarely climb ladders anymore unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Between you and me, the last time I had to change a lightbulb in the garage, instead of using a ladder, I stood on the roof of my wife’s S.U.V. (note to self, need to make up story explaining dent on roof of S.U.V.).
But I must admit, I do have a terrible weakness for speed. And while said weakness has been limited to things with four wheels, I’ve always toyed with the notion of someday getting a motorcycle. I never took up motorcycle riding in my younger years, but now as I see older and older people leisurely riding their hogs, and parking their chrome babies in handicapped designated spots, I wonder; could it really be that risky?
The other day, as we were taking a drive on a minimally trafficked two lane road, a couple of kids went flying by us on sportbikes at near triple digit speeds.
My immediate response; “AWESOME! I WANT ONE!”
My wife’s response; “Young . . . healthy. . . perfect candidates for organ harvesting!”

My desire to ride motorcycles has since waned.

I couldn’t help but think that kids like these are at much greater risk of becoming future organ donors now that Michigan has rescinded its mandatory helmet law, as many other states have. Some have said that the government did this to encourage tourism along the great lakes, others say it’s about liberty (including one man who may have died while trying to express his principles) It’s sad to think that lives will be lost due to such politics.

On the flip side, there are unexpected benefits to the lack of helmet laws. While I passed my wife’s observation off  as being a flippant comment, further investigation shows that there may have been some actual truth in it.
This study suggested that organ donations increased by 10% when states repealed helmet laws, most of those being from young men.  The authors even suggested that every death of a helmetless motorcycle rider delays 0.33 deaths of individuals waiting for an organ transplant.
An interesting article in the New York Times describes the deliberations among hospital physicians about whether to join a movement to block a mandatory helmet law in California. The hospital’s concern was that reduction in fatalities due to the law could seriously hamper the hospital’s organ transplantation business program. According to that article, one of the the physicians reportedly was concerned about helmet laws; “Motorcycle fatalities are not only our No. 1 source of organs, they are also the highest-quality source of organs, because donors are usually young, healthy people with no other traumatic injuries to the body, except to the head”. Ultimately the helmet law was enacted in California  and motorcycle fatalities were reduced.

Here in Michigan, the repeal of the helmet law has only recently gone into effect. And while it may seem macabre to think that both patients and hospitals might benefit from the untimely death of motorcycle riders, nobody seems to mind that injury lawyers might reap some benefits too. One enterprising motorcycle accident lawyer has even created  an infographic map of the U.S. showing which states are most helmet-free friendly. Alas, Michigan’s legislators, in all their wisdom did require riders to carry at least an additional $20,000 of medical coverage. Anyone who has ever received a bill from a hospital knows of course that this should cover most of the first day in the I.C.U.

Ok, now I’m getting sarcastic and therefore need to stop. Besides I need to get some more light bulbs. I could go to the store, but maybe it’d be safer to just order them from Amazon.