Zion’s New Hands

SONY DSCA photo from the Alhambra in Granada, Spain

I heard an amazing story on the news- eight-year-old Zion Harvey from Baltimore, Maryland was the first person to receive a double hand transplant. He actually had a kidney transplant at age four. He suffered a sepsis infection at age two, and underwent two years of dialysis. From the news stories, he seems to be pretty happy, despite some pretty serious suffering.

This story is wonderful in an obvious and more subtle way. We can celebrate the success of the doctors, the scientists, and everyone who made this possible, and we should. How much collaboration did this take? And research?

To me, what is deeply inspiring next to this modern miracle is the fact that there’s still plenty of suffering to undergo. Zion has to take medicine the rest of his life to ward off cancer and infection, and the doctors aren’t sure how likely it is he the medication will work. The transplant doesn’t alleviate Zion’s illness. It allows him and his family to orient around the illness in a different way, a happier, more positive way.

This is a good lesson for us, about suffering. It’s always around us, and in us. We can’t live a perfect life because we live in an imperfect world- yet we can shape our lives and our minds to live positively in the world, acknowledging the suffering we encounter. If we lose a family member or a friend, for instance, we need time to mourn and be mindful of our suffering, and we can also use the positive memories of this person to carry us forward, not to alleviate, but to live with the patches of darkness that mark us all, that make us human beings.

Little moments of happiness today: Running in the sun, celebrating my mom’s birthday tonight (and all weekend with my sister), catching up with a friend who lives far away

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