Donation Nation

By Scott LaFee

March 7, 2018 5 min read

Dutch lawmakers have approved a new measure that signs up every citizen as a potential organ donor unless they choose to opt out. It's an effort to ease the global, chronic shortage of donor organs and reduce transplant waitlists. Under the new law, every Dutch citizen over the age of 18 who hasn't registered as an organ donor will receive a letter asking if they'd like to become one. If they don't respond, they will automatically be considered to be organ donors.

Other nations are considering similar measures, though critics assert the approach places too much government control over an individual's body. In the U.S., similar efforts were introduced in Connecticut and Texas last year, but neither became law.

Body of Knowledge

The surface area of the average, healthy human lung — that is the tissue lining that exchanges inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide — is comparable to a tennis court.

Get Me That, Stat!

Basic science research is fundamental to modern medicine. Case in point: Between 2010 and 2016, at least 210 new drugs were approved for use in people. More than $100 billion in funding from the National Institutes of Health went, directly or indirectly, to development of those drugs, according to a study by researchers at Bentley University. More than 90 percent of the scientific publications during this time were related to identifying and describing biological targets of drugs.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of running up stairs burns 1,020 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 1.4 Big Macs. Or 34 carrots, if you're so inclined.

Stories for the Waiting Room

The abbreviation for "prescription" is Rx, whose origin is often attributed to the Latin word "recipere," meaning "to take." Physicians have other, similar bits of shorthand: Sx for signs or symptoms, Dx for diagnosis, Tx for treatment and Hx for history.

Doc Talk

Gorillacillin: a very powerful antibiotic

Phobia of the Week

Mageirocophobia: fear of cooking

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for chicken spiedies is 20.5 8-ounce sandwiches in 10 minutes, held by Matt Stonie. Spiedies are to upstate New York what cheesesteaks are to Philly: a toasted bun filled with grilled cubes of chicken or other meats. Despite their name, they are meant to be savored.

Best Medicine

A doctor put a stethoscope to his patient's chest, then frowned.

"Well, doc," asked the patient, "how do I stand?"

Replied the doctor: "That's what puzzles me."


"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."

—American humorist Mark Twain

Medical History

This week in 1822, Charles M. Graham of New York was issued the first U.S. patent for artificial teeth. The record and its details were lost in an 1836 Patent Office fire, as was an earlier related patent by William R. Eagleson for setting natural and artificial teeth. False teeth had, in fact, been around for decades. George Washington had at least four sets of false teeth, though none were wooden despite mythology. Washington's first dentures were comprised of human teeth set into carved hippopotamus ivory, with a hole precisely placed to accommodate Washington's single remaining natural molar.

Med School

Q: What is the purlicue?

A: Rarely used, it refers to the space between the forefinger and thumb. The word is thought to derive from the Scots term "pirlie," meaning curly or twisted.

Last Words

"I can't sleep."

—Scottish author and dramatist James Barrie (1860-1937), best known as the creator of Peter Pan

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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