Sunday, February 12, 2012

And we shall call him...

I have a habit of naming everything. In the past, I have named plants, cars, pianos, guitars, and dialysis machines.

Now I have to name my kidney.

From day one, I have believed with an almost unsettling sense of conviction that my donor was male, and that this is therefore a 'boy' kidney. My fellow transplantee - the girl who received the other kidney from the same donor - had the exact same intuition.

So one has to think. How to christen this organ; how to sum up in a name what it is to me; what it means. How to give it an identity that will carry it into my future, hopefully for a record-breaking number of years to come.

A name that personifies a force for good?

Bono (kidney is sarcastic)

A name that personifies longevity, and a force that just can't be killed off?


A name that puts a smile on someone's face?

Declan (think about it).

But none sat well with me, or gave sufficient respect to this awesome event in my life, and the fact that someone died for this.

The choice has been made, and from this day forth, my kidney will go by the name of Emmet.

It is a German name, and this is my exaggerated nod to the bank bailout-sponored truth that it was Dem Deutschen Volke who paid for my transplant. This whole country - including its health service - is largely being bankrolled by Merkel's taxpayers.

Emmet means 'strong, industrious' - two qualities that I need from my new organ in abundance. I need it to stand up to my immune system, which will try to attack it on a regular basis. I need it to work hard for me, to win 'Employee of the Month' every month; to be the organ that is accused of being my pet by the native organs that breathe, beat and filter.

In terms of my reasons on a personal level, the majority are caught up with a long-held admiration for my history hero, Robert Emmet.

The Robert Emmet who went on to wage a tireless crusade for the dream of Irish freedom from the British, was the 17th and final baby born to his mother. Thirteen of those babies who came before him died, through miscarriage, still birth or in the early hours and days of their infancy. Robert Emmet was a survivor, a fighter.

R.E. took on the cause of another people. Though a wealthy Protestant who should have lived comfortably as a loyal subject of the monarchy in 18th and early 19th century Ireland, he devoted his short life to improving the lot of Catholics and Nationalists. This is the kind of sympathetic nature I need from my kidney, who was born to, and whose natural home is in another body.

For more than two years now, I have lived in a place that has huge associations with Robert Emmet. This is the place I have felt most at home, of all the addresses I have had in Dublin. I spent hundreds of my nights on dialysis in this very spot. I hope there will be hundreds of nights ahead of happiness, here where I am among friends. This is the suburb of the city where R.E. came to seek refuge. I want my kidney to have a similar regard for my body. It - he - was obviously in danger in a body that had met with some accident or tragedy. I hope he sees me as some kind of saving grace, just as I see him.

On a related topic, Robert Emmet was a man who had formidable women in his life, who relied upon them. Sarah Curran, with whom he was in love, and Anne Devlin, who helped him plan his rebellion. Like any female, I like a man who is comfortable in the company of a strong woman.

Mystery. This is my other reason for choosing to name my organ after Robert Emmet. Nobody knows where Robert is buried. Before he was hanged, drawn and quartered on Thomas Street, he gave a speech from the dock, where he said:

"When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written."

His wish was granted, and he was interred by men who kept the whereabouts of his final resting place to themselves, men who died long ago and brought his secret to their own graves. There is no burial place at which a free Irish people can worship.

I suspect that whatever may lie in store for me, my transplant will remain the greatest mystery and wonder of my lifetime. It is shrouded in questions to which I will never have the answers. Who my donor was, what happened to them, was it really a boy as I believe it was, what was he like. I will never be able to visit his grave, to leave him flowers.

Finally, I hope my kidney will last for decades, and that I will have the opportunity to explain the scar on my tummy to a number of future young curious minds.

It thus needs to have an enduring recognisable quality, it needs not to draw blank expressions from school-going teenagers, as I regret to say the name Robert Emmet probably will.

Thanks to Stephanie Meyer there is a fictional boy that I suspect will be familiar to young ones for many years to come. There is a character called Emmet in the 'Twilight' series. Admittedly, he is a vampire, but he is a good and disciplined vampire. Not an indiscriminate blood-sucker like Dracula. And of course, vampires do live forever.

So that's us. Emmet and Reg. No. Emmet with Reg.

A story of boy meets girl, with a twist.


  1. When I was in third class I became obsessed with finding Robert Emmet's grave. I even organised a field trip, and wanted to break into a long abandoned graveyard near Kilmainham jail.

    Very apt name for your new pal.

    1. Aw, I can just see a little Radge, traipsing around Dublin, doing a spot of detective work. Bless!

      I hope the name will serve Emmet well.

  2. Great choice! As soon as you said you had to name it, I immediately thought "Declan!" but after reading this, Emmet is definitely the way to go. Another cool Emmett is Doc Brown from Back to the Future, although he does have an extra T. :)

    1. Kitty - I thought of Doc Brown too, in his own right as a legend, and was wondering for a day or two if I could call kidney after him altogether.

      I had forgotten the doc's name was actually Emmett - that has cemented the christening of the new hell with any pedantic qualms over one 't' or two :) Yay!