NeoHuman podcast, starring me

Willis NeoHuman

My friend Agah Bahari is interested in everything, which is one of the things that I love about him.

Not that long ago, he decided to indulge his interests by starting something he calls the NeoHuman podcast (which matches nicely with his NeoHuman blog), inviting many of the interesting people he knows to discuss pretty much anything that comes up.

Well, seems he ran out of interesting people and so he invited me to participate…and we talked about anything: biotechnology, pharma, global healthcare, designer babies, creativity, writing, screenwriting, 9/11, marketing, and the novel he and I are writing about his life.

But my favourite part is the question he asks all his guest, which is roughly:

If you met an intelligent alien life-form, what would you describe as the greatest human accomplishment and as the worst human accomplishment?

Never boring, my friend Agah.

Agah-me

(Photo stolen with love from Kelly Brienz Showker)

Little Joe’s Heart – An infant awaits a donor

As some of you may recall from a previous post (A parent’s call in the darkness), I told you about a friend of mine whose infant son is in desperate need of a heart transplant to keep him with us.

Almost a month and a half later, I am happy to report that Joe is still fighting, refusing to give up, but am sad to say that he is still waiting for a donor.

Super Joe

Word is getting out, though, and even if Joe cannot be helped in time, his parents’ efforts to raise awareness of the need for organ donors (including this YouTube video) is having an impact.

Like this recent report on Global TV News: Parents Pin Hopes on Heart Transplant

Or this retweet and plea from actress Shannon Elizabeth:

Shannon

Or this message of support from Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo:

Pompeo

And of course, the continued love and support from hundreds of people worldwide.

Please do what you can to support organ donor registry in your area. None of us may be in a position to help Joe directly, but we can all do something to help other families going through the same turmoil and fear.

Please reblog this post to help spread the word. Joe and his family (and I) will be ever so grateful.

Joe and his twin sister

Joe and his twin sister

A parent’s call in the darkness

A friend and his family are going through a rough time…the worst time a parent could ever go through.

His infant son has a failing heart and after several surgeries, continues to struggle. They face the reality that little Joe may pass away.

Knowing that it is up to the fates to help his boy, my friend has channeled some of his energy into the creation of a video, asking people to consider signing up with an organ donor registry.

Please watch this video and then do what you think is best to help spread the word.

Hug a loved one. Reblog my post. Write your own. Tweet the video. Post it to Facebook. Sign up to be an organ donor. Be grateful for what you have. Anything helps.

Even if you can’t help baby Joe, perhaps you can help the next person.

Awake with love – Canada

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I have been a very lucky man.

I was lucky enough to be born in a great country. In my almost 50 years, I have not known war. When I have been sick, I have been able to find treatment. When I have been poor, I have been able to find support. When I have been lonely, I have been able to find friends. And a lot of that is because I live in Canada.

Canada is not a perfect country—it is no Shangri-La—but it is a good proxy. And today, July 1, it is 146 years old.

Being so free, however, I have often been complacent about how good things are for me. I have forgotten what went into creating this haven. Forgotten how my life has compared to those living elsewhere.

One of the great things about living in a cosmopolitan centre like Toronto is that I get the opportunity to meet many of the people who started elsewhere.

Several years ago, in the span of just a few months, I played host to a couple of post-doctoral researchers who came to Toronto to work at the Hospital for Sick Children. One was a researcher from Moscow, the other a student from Beijing. Both rented a room in my house, and while the rent money was nice, the life lesson was more valuable.

Wei marveled at the space available in this thriving metropolis; that he could go for a walk and find places where he saw no one. He also marveled at the speed and insanity of NHL hockey on Saturday nights (just because it’s cliché doesn’t, mean it’s untrue).

Sergei was reminded of home in some ways, and amusingly found Torontonians a bit repressed (ah, our Scottish banker roots were showing through). At the same time, when I informed him that yes indeed, public consumption of alcohol was illegal in our parks, he marveled that no one stopped him or that the police didn’t arrive suddenly. And he was grateful at the open welcome he received from everyone including my family. Our cookies were a little stale, but then, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’d mistaken dog biscuits for cookies (we call them Sergei cookies, now).

As I would listen to both of these men recount their lives back home, I gained a new appreciation for what I had…and for what I took for granted.

From my geographically central location, I have had the luxury of traveling most of my country. I’ve taken in its historical sites—Fortress of Louisbourg, Quebec Citadel, Plains of Abraham—visited some of the most majestic landscape I could hope to see—the Shield of Northern Ontario, the Fraser River valley, the Bay of Fundy, the Lachine Rapids—participated in amazing cultural festivals—the Stratford Festival, Pride Week, Fringe Toronto, Caribana—and met amazing people.

I am a lucky man to live in such a beautiful, dazzling country.

Happy birthday, Canada. I love you more today than I did yesterday, and I will love you even more tomorrow.

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