Brief asides


POSTED: Thursday, August 06, 2009


Helping those in need

Visionary. Hero. Legendary.

Those words, and more, aptly describe Dr. Livingston Wong, Hawaii's organ transplant pioneer. The first kidney transplants here were done on Aug. 10, 1969, thanks to Wong's efforts with a team that included Dr. David Hume of Boston, who years earlier had done the first successful kidney transplants.

From humble, experimental beginning, Wong grew the organ transplant program at St. Francis Medical Center. He made it happen not just medically, but also financially and politically, securing funds and legislative support. Since 1969, some 1,356 transplants have been performed in Hawaii: 46 for heart, 157 liver, 1,123 kidney, 30 pancreas. Kudos to Wong, patients and program on their 40th anniversary.

The doctor's legacy lives in the 40-year-strong transplant program; in patients like Jeanette Chong, who received her kidney transplant 38 years ago; and in family like daughter Linda, herself a noted surgeon who performed Hawaii's first liver transplant in 1993.


More potholes than an Oahu street

The “;cash for clunkers”; program has found itself driving a rocky road during its short life. While it has been a boon for auto dealers who are finding customers again, the dealers themselves have had trouble collecting their payments for the program from the government.

Then the whole works ran out of money. Too much of a good thing, too fast.

Now climate experts say that there won't be much of a climate change through the program which attempts to get “;gas guzzlers”; off the road through trade-ins for more eco-friendly vehicles.

The government will likely cough up more cash for the program, but at what cost? Some analysts wonder if new vehicle sales now will eat into next year's sales.