In an episode of This American Life, Lili Sullivan tells the story of Doctor Belding Scribner. He came up with the idea of using a Teflon tube to help kidney patients live longer lives.

The idea came after he had to discharge a young man with kidney problems home to go die with his family.

“The idea was using a Teflon tube that could be stitched into the blood vessels of the arm and stay implanted there. It made long-term dialysis possible for the first time. They’d pull the blood out of someone’s body, clean it the way a kidney does and put it back in. People called it a medical miracle, an artificial organ that could cheat death.”

This was back in 1960. There was a challenge. “Every patient needed to spend dozens of hours each week attached to it. And only five of these machines existed. This was still in the experimental stages, so they could only take care of a few people. And there were thousands of people dying from kidney failure every year in the country. ”

To give every patient a fighting chance, they came up with a God committee. They used a series of questions, and qualifications ensure they picked the best.

What followed was a situation that they did not expect.

What represents the best of us?

Money?

Beauty?

Fame?

Influence?

Youth?

It’s laborious to determine.

When a popular figure dies, what usually follows is a long list of their achievements. Sometimes, the core fact that a human died is missing in all the aesthetic we choose to discuss.

In our remembrance of the dead, we impose much pressure on the living. It is never enough to be alive; you must be doing something. We teach people to have goals of saving the world, having more than you need or could finish. That’ll it help them give back or do more for others.

This is not a socialism or capitalism debate.

In my reflection of the dead, especially the dead that I did not know I ask myself about the value I place on their lives. Will I use checks and balances to determine their worth?

What makes a person deserving of a life-saving procedure than another?

What makes the best of us?