The time may be with us already, when we can go to the shop and return with a ‘pièce de rechange’ (a spare part). That’d not essentially be a novelty, you may say, but that’s because you won’t have waited to know the kind of ‘part’ I’m talking about. You’ll have assumed I’m talking about your everyday auto spare part that you can pick from any unmarked Biryogo lean-to, anytime. I’m talking about human spare parts, no less. Hahaha! (I can hear you laugh).
Of course, for what it’s worth, your incredulous laughter will have been better than the sneer that’d be from a certain man in the United States of America. John Wayne Bobbit – the name may not ring a bell if you were born yesterday.
Yesterday being – in case you put it too near – any time after 1983. Bobbit was a man who was not exactly averse to any beverage that answered to the name ‘hard drink’. Imbibing which beverage, when it went to his head, Bobbit would not handle wife Lorena with kid gloves, in claiming his conjugal rights. So it was that on the night of 23rd June 1993, he put down his foot in demanding conjugal compliance, even going to the extent of executing what’s called ‘spousal rape’. After which, the double effects had the better of him and he dozed off. And, blissfully, felt not what happened after.
What happened is, wife Lorena did what any of you male chauvinists should remember to always keep at the back of your brain. Your Eve in the house is not a contrivance to always bend to your rules of Eden and its fruits. And, when not ready, can do what Adam’s Eve’d not have done, lacking the tools of today. Lorena had all the tools and, having no need to apply them in sophisticated form, picked a kitchen knife. Then leisurely walked to the slumbering Bobbit and proceeded to make crooning history. From then, the verb ‘bobbit’ entered the American lexicon to mean ‘sever’.
But, human compassion being what it is, when Lorena ‘dismembered’ Bobbit, she felt the pinch of that compassion and rang police to tell them where Bobbit’s ‘was-whole’ would be confined.
Police duly left, on the double, but, it being dark at night, searched and took time but were able to retrieve Bobbit’s ‘bobbited’ piece, which they packed in ice. From there, they trusted the now-iced piece to the comfort zones of the deep freezer.
It was where the freezer was kept that a now-groaning Bobbit was taken the following morning, after the effects had worn off. He was placed in the caring hands of Doctors James T. Sehn and David Berman. Thanks to these two hands, in a painstaking 9-hour operation, the ‘sever-victim’ was reattached. A few days and John Wayne Bobbit was not only ‘back on the road’ but actually crooning in a band he, perhaps cynically, called ‘The Severed Parts’! It went on to pay his medical bills.
Isn’t it in order then that such a ‘guy’ would sneer at the thought that human spare parts are hard to come by, even if his ‘part’ was his own? That, however, should not lead us into thinking that this reconstruction of parts is today an easy possibility, especially on our continent.
But if we recount the above in jest, the story of Pippie is a tale of harrowing pain and unimaginable child suffering. Isabella ‘Pippie’ Kruger is a 3-year-old who, on the eve of New Year last December, got what they call ‘third-degree’ burns which, in familiar terms, means that 80% of her body was burnt. That means only small parts of her skin escaped the explosion of the combustible jelly that her father was using to prepare barbeque. Following the accident, the kid suffered cardiac arrests, kidney failures, collapsed lungs and countless infections but, for all this time, has withstood them all and may beat all the odds to triumph over them.
Two weeks ago a container of brand new skin was rushed from USA specially designed for her. Yes, you heard right: imported skin. Skin that was not supposed to go beyond 24 hours without being fitted on her was delivered bang, in 21! Today, Little Pippie has been fitted with that skin and is making good recovery. So far, the skin’s “taking”, in the expression of the doctors.
Enamoured with which confidence, we shift our too-much attention that may bring bad luck.
Good news, then, to you all, oldies out there whose skin is shrivelling: you can get custom-made new skin. Yes, but don’t jump for joy yet!
It’s easy to get, though: you need only a 2-centimetre sample of your skin and somebody to hand it to Genzyme for you. Genzyme is the company in Boston, USA, that specialises in growing layers of human skin by cloning that 2-squarre-centimetre sample.
Within a few weeks, it’ll be good and ready and the rest is to make sure that somebody brings it with haste, so you can beat that 24-hour deadline. Then a process known as a ‘cultured epidermal autograft’ will be performed on you and you can swagger out of the spare-part lean-to, showing off your designer skin!
As to the estimated cost, what’s $82,000 when you can walk around in – not shrivelled, not chaguo, not phone-fake, but – brand new skin, made in USA?