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Unwind (Unwind, #1)
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Unwind Discussions > Unwind Transplants for Need vs. Want

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Josh Newhouse (newhousejo) | 14 comments From one of the other threads, really liked this post by Grace responding to Polkweed:

Polkweed wrote: "I actually think it works better as a critique of modern organ donation practices than any of the right to life stuff."

I don't think it's so much a critique of current practices but a speculation on what might happen if replacement body parts were readily available and the issue of tissue rejection had been solved. There's a hint that people might elect to have a transplant for purely cosmetic reasons; for example, you don't like the colour of your eyes so you pick a different colour from the organ bank.

So here's the question, do you think it makes a difference if a donated organ is needed rather than simply wanted for cosmetic or other reasons... it almost takes it to an Uglies by Westerfeld type of place or another dystopia wherein parents choose their childrens features... my mind is boggling... discuss...


message 2: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (debnew1000) | 4 comments Personally, I feel that if someone wants an organ transplant for cosmetic reasons there has to be a real strong need for that to be useful. i.e. if the person has a deformed jaw so his/her face looks crooked, or one eye is lazy and refuses to "sit" right, or you were born with a defect and your hand, foot, legs, arms... don't grow correctly.... Then there would, perhaps be a need for "cosmetic" donations.

However, if you are trying to change your appearance so you can grow an extra 2-3 inches taller, or have a more muscular figure, then I believe that should not be allowed as someone else may need that part for a more functional use.


regardin actual "organ donation", I can't see how changing an organ other than your skin for cosmetic purposes would be useful as all others are inside of your body and not seen. If you wanted to change your brain, make yourself smarter, what would be the point if in the process you were losing a part of yourself and gaining a part of someone else. Thinking to the boy who got a chunk of another child's brain, look at what happened to him.

Ok, I'm rambling now and getting distracted so I'll stop before this gets any crazier... I hope you are enjoying the book. I did!!!!


Josh Newhouse (newhousejo) | 14 comments what about eyes or ears or pianist fingers?


message 4: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (debnew1000) | 4 comments Ok, technically eyes are an organ, I forgot about them...

Ears and fingers technically are not organs, and piano fingers require a talent or skill to be useful.

*FYI, Joshua is my husband so I reserve the right to be condescending in my comments back ;) J/K hunny...


message 5: by Polkweed (last edited May 04, 2010 07:38PM) (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments A lot of the things they transplant these days aren't what we would traditionally consider organs, like joints and nerves for example.

@Joshua: I wanted this book to be more about organ transplant instead of right to life because I think it has a stronger point to make in that regard. Shusterman's world has a very basic capitalistic viewpoint on organ transplant. Emby's family could only afford a weak, asthmatic lung so the better organs must cost more than the flawed ones. There's mention of elective organ transplants for features like eyes and an implication that certain skilled parts, like Risa' pianists hands, are more valuable, but Shusterman never addresses that directly. Everyone that receives a transplant gets it to live or to fix a serious disability. There's mention of Repo-like vanity transplants but no examples of it. So he's intentionally removed the most inexcusable, callow, and exploitative use for the harvested organs and dodged the ethical questions within. And that's where the questions about our modern system of organ transplant begin. Where is the line between vanity and necessity? If you need a new heart it's a matter of life and death, but what about a top athlete who needs a new shoulder to replace the one s/he's worn out?


message 6: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments Ha, didn't notice the split. So on the topic at hand instead of the book...

It's easy to say something as valuable and rare as an organ should go to those who need it to live but there's also an element of supply and demand.

Some people cannot afford the surgery, treatment, and recovery, that go along with organ transplant. If they can't pay do they have a right to still claim an organ onto the hopes that the debt will be paid later or never? And even if you think that a person who needs a heart shoudl get it regardless of finances what about non-vital parts? Who gets dibs on the shoulder joint?


Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) Polkweed,
How would you have suggested Shusterman present his world? After all, we live in a very capitalistic society. I don't think it was that out there to show it that way. I personally don't think Shusterman focused as much on the organ transplant aspect because he wanted his focus to be the abortion debate. I thought it was interesting that in the vanity/necessity spectrum, he does show a need for a heart transplant that was refused. You see that with extremes. The more vain surgeries out there, the more the all natural look becomes popular, as we're seeing now in society.


Michelle Skeens (seeshelle) | 24 comments BY POLKWEED: "...There's mention of Repo-like vanity transplants but no examples of it....

I think there is in the beginning but we don't realize it. In the very beginning (I don't have the book with me so I don't remember her name.) Conner's girlfriend's eyes I think were a vanity transplant mentioned.


message 9: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (debnew1000) | 4 comments @ Michelle

The girlfriends eyes were a shade of purple, an injectible dye made them that way, she also did the same to her skin. Connor calls her vain because she always wants what is "in style".


message 10: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments Annalisa wrote: "Polkweed,
How would you have suggested Shusterman present his world? After all, we live in a very capitalistic society. I don't think it was that out there to show it that way. I personally don't t..."


I don't think this book is successful in pursuing the complicated issue of abortion. If not for the characters outright saying that unwinding was a result of a war between pro-life and pro-choice factions I would have though this book was about organ transplant alone. I think it would have been more successful if Shusterman had focused on that and discarded the abortion thing.


message 11: by Annalisa (last edited May 05, 2010 05:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) Yeah, I got that you didn't like the abortion slant (personally, I disagree). My question was about your criticism of the capitalist way to distribute organs. Would you rather he show a socialistic distribution of organs? A government-controlled system where you get what you need no matter what you can pay? The US is currently headed in that direction, but I don't think the capitalistic view unrealistic. Shusterman doesn't have to show a system he likes, just the one he thinks reflects society. With the amount of kids being unwound, it seemed like the supply was high enough not to drive up demand.


message 12: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments My criticism was that he didn't take the capitalism to a logical extreme. He establishes that parts have a monetary value but that kids themselves have no value. Aside from the tithes parents only motivation for unwinding their children is to get them out of the house like a boot camp of no return. And there's no quality control or farming for certain traits and collections falls completely on the backs of the government...So I guess it's more fascism than capitalism. I wouldn't be surprised if the transplant companies were fully subsidized.


message 13: by Grace (last edited May 08, 2010 09:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Polkweed wrote: "I think it would have been more successful if Shusterman had focused on that and discarded the abortion thing."

I think the two are intertwined and are part of a broader theme - what does it mean to be alive?

Here's how it breaks down - in my opinion:
A war between pro-choice and pro-life adherents breaks out. At roughly the same time, advances in health sciences make it possible to transplant any organ or body part - presumably without the risk of rejection which is a major issue with transplants in real life.

The war ends when both of the warring sides accept the proposal that all unwanted pregnancies be carried to term but that unwanted children could be "unwound" when they reach the age of 13.

Now, WHY would passionate, vocal adherents of the right to life accept such a proposal? Why would a so-called Bill of Life allow the termination of thousands of lives? After fighting a war to prevent the termination of a fetus, pro-life adherents accept the unwinding of a living child BECAUSE they accept the argument that unwinding is not dying because the entire person goes on living in bits and pieces as part of other people. Of course, the Unwound see it differently.

There is ONE element of a living person that cannot be preserved by unwinding and that is the individual's consciousness or sense of self. And that leads to the main question: what is life? Neal Shusterman doesn't attempt to answer this question but he tries to show what might happen if everyone just blindly accepts that a person is the sum of their body parts.

And if you follow this...then you inevitably get to the point where you must ask - when does life begin? Does it begin with conception when you have a single fertilized egg that has the potential to develop into a conscious being? Does it begin only after birth when the child takes its first breath - the first step towards a separate, conscious, self-aware, independent existence. Eventually, you may also reach the other question - when does life end? Does it end with the cessation of breath or with the end of brain activity? If parts of the body live on as transplants, does that mean the donor still lives?

I think you need to really dig deeper to fully appreciate this book. If you just take it on face value - it's truly repellent and disturbing. Under it all, though, are deep and important questions.


Michelle Skeens (seeshelle) | 24 comments Grace... Excellent and insightful post. I loved this book, not only for its story but for the questions it makes you ask.


message 15: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments Still not buying it. He doesn't address disease or rape or any of the multitude of other reason a person mught seek an abortion and he doesn't address capitol punishment. Do they still kill prisoners even if they're too old to be unwound?


Kayzee | 180 comments Polkweed wrote: "Do they still kill prisoners even if they're too old to be unwound?

They say in the book that they dont get killed after 18 but they do ge punnished



message 17: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments They mention they're nto allowed to unwind after 18. Maybe they just kill them off or maybe the implication is if you get rid of all your trouble makers in their teens then they wont grow up to break the law. There was a study that claimed that a fall in the crime rate is tied directly to the legalization in abortion. Less unwanted kids makes for less criminal adults.


Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Polkweed wrote: "They mention they're nto allowed to unwind after 18."
Remember - unwinding isn't supposed to result in death - as far as the book is concerned.

Shusterman doesn't fill in all the details about this society - he's trying to keep the focus on the fate of the children who face unwinding. I think he does this to make us think and come to our own conclusions. I believe he's trying to keep things one-dimensional to simplify things - and keep the book from growing to 700 pages.

There are so many things he doesn't talk about - is it right to terminate a pregnancy that results from rape? What about terminating a pregnancy if the mother's life is threatened? What risks does a woman face if she carries an unwanted pregancy to term? If abortion is wrong, why is capital punishment accepted? Conversely, if you accept that a woman has a right to choose an abortion if she wants, does it make you a hypocrite to oppose capital punishment?

Although I found it frustrating at times that Shusterman doesn't address all the issues - I accepted his decision not to because this is just a novel, after all. It's not as easy, though, to stand on the sidelines of the pro-choice/pro-life debate and view it as a simple black or white issue.


message 19: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Grace wrote: "Polkweed wrote: "I think it would have been more successful if Shusterman had focused on that and discarded the abortion thing."

I think the two are intertwined and are part of a broader theme - w..."


Wow... I didn't think about that, but this book does go further then just "when does life begin" but "when does life end". Very good point!


message 20: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited May 11, 2010 09:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I wonder what lengths people would go to in order to get organs that would help them get jobs?

I also don't see how every part of a human could be used. How many people really need new eyes? What happens when there is too much of a product?

I feel that just releasing a child at 18 is almost like just releasing someone from prison. No one wants that unwind when the turn 18, look Lev had a problem himself finding a place to stay. Will there be halfway homes for the Unwinds who turn 18? I think there would be prejudices against them in society if someone found out they were supposed to be an unwind and just happen to make it to 18.


Kayzee | 180 comments Well they deffinatly wouldnt be living a life of sunshine and lollypops would they


message 22: by Polkweed (new)

Polkweed | 50 comments How many people need new eyes? How many people wear contacts or glasses?


message 23: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited May 16, 2010 09:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Polkweed wrote: "How many people need new eyes? How many people wear contacts or glasses?"

True... to be honest I don't wear glasses so I didn't think of that. But I still wonder what happenes to the surplus. Some parts of the body MUST have a surplus. Think of how many unwinds there are as opposed to how many people need a new intestine?


message 24: by Neira (new)

Neira | 6 comments @Angie, that's what I kept thinking.

There are parts of the body that are going to go surplus.

External ears, for example. I struggled to think of a reason why you'd transplant them.

There's also the fact that you can't fix some things with transplants. Auto immune disorders, for example. You'd have to somehow transplant the unwind's immune cells...


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