OXFORD, MS – Remember the good old days when you could get free drug samples from your doctor? Well, clinicians at Mississippi Health do. They’re trying to bring back some of the charm of medicine of years past, but they’ve also taken it a step further: they are handing out free live end organs for their patients to try.
“I think it’s fun, the patient does too, and the message hits closer to home,” internist David Foote explains, refilling his cardboard box with bloody ears, breasts, and lungs. For example, if Dr. Foote has an alcoholic patient, he’ll offer the patient a free liver to mess around with and see if the patient likes the idea of a transplant and its complications. Oftentimes, the patient will clean up their act, no questions asked. “Then as a bonus, the patient spreads the message by having their family and friends play with the liver. Not too shabby, don’t you think?”
Subspecialists are also joining in on the fun initiative.
“I gave one patient taken this huge flap of skin last week and he came in today just to show me that he made it into a stylish hat and scarf,” said dermatologist Mary Johnson, laughing and smiling. “It was really cute!”
“Patients aren’t interested in talk or prevention or medications, why do you think noncompliance is such a problem?” says cardiologist Ryan Hart, who has bought into the program as well. “But give them a free human heart, play with it at home with the kids, man, it’s a game changer!” He goes through at least 25 hearts on a busy work week. He added: “Kids really love playing with live aortas.”
For nephrologist Melvin Bean, he admits there is some degree of nostalgia. “It reminds me of when I was a kid. My Dad would take me to the barber, I’d get a haircut, and my barber would hand me a bucket with free candy. Man oh man, that was the best! I would always choose a red lollipop!” As an homage to his childhood, Bean and colleagues offer their patients free kidneys out of a similar brightly-colored yellow bucket.
Mississippi Health says the program has been a resounding success and that everyone – young and old, healthy or sick, patients and providers – loves the free organ samples. According to a spokesperson at Mississippi Health, primary care clinics constantly run out of brains, hearts, and pancreases by late morning. However, afternoon patients still enjoy less popular organs like eyeballs, pituitary and thyroid glands, bowels, and testicles.
“I’m excited to go go the doctor now, not like before,” said previously noncompliant patient Claire Elbows. “I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been and I think I have enough live organs now to make a real human being. Now, where’s my spleen? I want my free spleen, dammit!”
Mississippi Health plans having a float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to promote this innovative plan. They will be throwing organs into the crowd instead of candy.