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Donor
      Ponk Vonsydow
        ponkvonsydow@gmail.com
A feat of medical science that had so far eluded the world's top neurologists and neurosurgeons was finally achieved at the turn of the 22nd century in the year 2100 AD, when it became medically possible to remove a human brain from a failing body and transplant it into a new one. After much trial and error, by 2112 neurosurgeons were able to perfect the process with a 100% success rate.  But it was mostly a matter of money, power, and influence making it difficult for most people to get the famous surgery once their bodies begin to fail. 

However, the procedure itself was not without its own difficulties.  At the heart of the issue was exactly where to find younger healthy donor bodies to receive the old disembodied brains. The first donor bodies were produced via confiscation, utilizing condemned prisoners of the state, awaiting execution on death row cell blocks. For a sizable fee one could purchase rights to the condemned man's body and when the day of that man's execution came, instead of death by electrocution or lethal injection, the man was killed in the process of the complete brain transplant procedure, which required the total removal of the host bodies brain, in effect executing the condemned man by proxy to the procedure. 

After that, the donor body would be fitted with the brain of its purchaser, and once the procedure was completed, that person could continue to live his or her life in the host body until the time came for that body to expire and he or she needed the procedure again. However, it was unknown how long brain tissue could survive going from one fresh body to another.  By 2130, the records showed that the most number of brain transplants for one individual was three.  That person lived to the ripe old age of 137. His first natural body got him to 112; then 6 years in the second body, until it contracted cancer; then he already lived another 19 years in the third body. He was considered by all to be the oldest living human being.

As the technique was perfected, the cost of the hideously expensive procedure eventually came down until the average rich people could afford to undergo brain transplants when the time came. Thus arose the rush to purchase donor bodies, still coming in the form of condemned prisoners, and there was a noticeable lack of female donor bodies because there just wasn't that many females sitting on death row. Thousands of people couldn't find a body to purchase at all so they formed a powerful political lobby to repeal hundred-year-old anti-human cloning laws, until such laws were revoked and new laws concerning the rights of human clones were put into place favoring the Transplanters as they were called. 

This resulted in it being perfectly legal to manufacture one's own clone, for the expressed purpose of using its adult body to host the original person's brain. But the moral implications of these sets of laws were untested and disregarded from a legal standpoint. The moral dilemma sprang from the cloning process itself. In order to produce a single clone, the donor's genetic material was placed into a fertilized human egg, replacing the previous DNA strands with the donor’s, producing a cloned embryo that grew inside a surrogate mother until it was delivered through natural birth. Then the clone was raised until it reached maturity when the transplant procedure could commence. The problem was, by then the clone was an adult, and a living, breathing, human being, with all the same feelings, emotions and desires as any normal adult person, including a strong will to live. The Transplanter community ignored these simple facts and raised their own clones without sharing with them the knowledge of their ultimate fate and then when it was time to commence the brain transplant procedure, the clone was slipped a mickey, fell unconscious, and was brought into the surgical theater where their brain was removed and the transplant was performed.  From a legal standpoint, the clone was never actually a real person to begin with regardless of the fact that many Transplanters often preferred to raise the clones themselves as their own disposable child. Thus the murder of the clones was a type of infanticide.

*****
Malcolm Laurence was an extremely wealthy man, but one of advancing age with a weak heart. It was his intention to undergo the brain transplant procedure and to that end he had ordered the creation of his clone, which was already born and raised and was living on the old man's estate. The clone believed himself to be the natural child of one of the old man's servants, but the old man was very generous and allowed him and the woman he thought was his mother to live on the grounds of the estate in a large, lavishly decorated guest house. The woman the clone thought was his mother was simply a caregiver the old man employed who cared for the clone from the day it was born, and she loved the clone as her own son. For practical purposes neither the woman nor the clone knew what the clone's ultimate fate would be. The old man who planned to one day steal the clone’s body kept his distance from the clone, so the relationship between the clone and the man was only one of acquaintance. 

But the fateful day was almost upon all concerned. Malcolm Laurence was different than most Transplanters.  He was a moral person, and for that reason he had long since decided that when the day came to harvest the body of his clone, he would call the clone into his study and reveal his fate.  Malcolm wanted to seek understanding and forgiveness on the part of the donor, much the same as the Transplanters who purchased condemned men's bodies sometimes wrote the death row inmate letters in an attempt to convince them that part of them would continue to live on in them. Many said they were eternally grateful and promised to take good care of the donated body as though these sentiments would somehow console those who died in the process.

The clone, going by the name the old man gave him, Maxwell Fishburn, was surprised to receive an invitation to have lunch with Malcolm at the mansion in the old man's private study. Maxwell was greeted at the door by the old man's butler, who escorted him to the study where Malcolm waited. Maxwell couldn't help but notice two large men dressed in expensive suits standing on either side of the study's door, presumably the old man's body guards. What Maxwell didn't know was the two men were only there to collect him after he was drugged and unconscious, so he could be removed to a surgical theater elsewhere for the brain transplant. Malcolm Laurence was waiting for the clone and sat in an overstuffed, upholstered, red leather chair, smoking a Cuban cigar. As Maxwell entered the room, Malcolm offered him one of his expensive imported cigars. Cuban cigars were no longer contraband since Cuba had been established as a Corporation of North and South American Territory since as far back as 2086. Maxwell accepted the cigar and allowed Malcolm to light it for him. Malcolm ushered Maxwell to sit in an identical chair as he then began to speak:

“Don't bother yourself trying to figure out why, after all these years, I am just now inviting you to eat a simple meal with me in the big house your mother always told you never to venture into. I have brought you here today under the most serious of circumstances which I will reveal to you shortly. But first I want to show you something.”

Malcolm picked up an electronic scrapbook off the table next to his chair and handed it over to Maxwell:

“It's the complete visual record of my life. I was born in the year 2043 and now in 2138 I am 95 years old and about to die. Look closely at my baby videos and the subsequent ones as I got older year-by-year, and tell me if you don't notice something peculiar about them.”

Maxwell watched a few minutes of the baby videos, then, scanned a few more stopping on a video when Malcolm was 10 years old:

“I have to tell you Mr. Laurence, that after looking at these videos, if I didn't know these were from your life, I would have to say they were from my own! The resemblance between you as a child and what I looked like when I was the same age as you back then is uncanny, almost to the point of being spooky, because we might as well have been twins. But that's impossible. What explanation do you have? I'm really dying to know.”

Malcolm tried not to show expression about Maxwell's choice of words when he said he was dying to know, which was quite literally true:

“The explanation for our looking identical is a simple one, but also an explanation that comes with some rather grave news. For you see Maxwell, indeed we two are identical in every way except age, because you are my own clone. I had you manufactured in a laboratory to serve an ultimate purpose once you became fully grown. I am sorry to have to inform you that the time has come to harvest that which belongs to me, your body, for you are my cloned donor, and later this afternoon, surgeons will transplant my brain into your fresh young and strong body to replace my elderly weak and dying one. 

“The procedure in your case is, of course, terminal. Now you may understand why I have kept my distance from you all these years, even while providing you everything you needed. But it is not as simple as all that. Before my men come in here to collect you, I seek your approval and blessing, for surely you can understand that by sacrificing your young insignificant life, you preserve all that is inside me and all that I was and will continue to be. One life so another may continue to live. It's all about the value of one's life you see. The world will not miss a solitary clone, but my absence would affect many people negatively I'm afraid, so the scale falls heavily in favor of prolonging my life, while sacrificing yours. I am hoping you might understand what I mean and not make trouble for us. I would prefer you be brave and face your fate and walk calmly into the operating theater and take your place where you will finally come to rest for eternity.”

Maxwell, remained perfectly calm during Malcolm's dialog and did not panic or interrupt, because he understood that whatever he said next would be words his life literally depended on:

“I beg to differ, Mr. Laurence. Yours is a life that has run its natural course and you seek more life by artificial means and at my expense.  I would argue that  the future belongs to the young, and the higher value is not in prolonging one old man's life but in allowing another younger man's life to fully blossom because who can say what I am destined to accomplish and what my contributions might be by the time I am as old as you and am ready to expire. Your contributions are a matter of record, while mine are a matter of speculation, and the possibilities for what I might do with my life are endless. To deny the world all that I could be is a crime against humanity, should, for example, I be destined to rise to power and put an end to let's say things like war and poverty. 

“I argue that while your new body would be young, the mind within it would be old and weak in spirit. What great plans do you have to accomplish with my body that you have yet to accomplish with your own? Or is it only going to be more of the same, a little more money, a few more possessions, a few more sexual conquests, a little more power, all of which you already had a lifetime to fulfill, while those things for me would be fresh and new and well deserved and the gift of such delights would not be wasted on a mind of advanced age, merely repeating itself. You ask that I participate in my own demise willingly, as though there is some unspoken value in the act of my great sacrifice, but I see no value in such at all. I see a pathetic old man desperately trying to reclaim his youth, who fears death, even as he asks me to accept my own death for his reasons. 

“Why do you fear leaving this world of flesh and hardship, to discover what lies beyond the realm of the living as all old men must? Do you not wonder if indeed there is a magnificent supreme creator who awaits you? If you take my body, eventually your old brain will expire and you will meet your maker anyway. How will you explain to a supreme being how you once cheated your own death at the expense of another man's life? What if you go through all that only to discover you are to be judged by a higher power than yourself, and discover you are condemned for what you plan to do on this day? Every man has his time, and you have already had yours, while mine is just beginning. By what right do you take my life to prolong yours after you have already lived a full and rewarding life? I will offer you no blessing, and I will not walk to my death willingly. And don't forget, as your clone I am all that you once were, with the same feelings and emotions and talents as you had in your youth. Imagine what you might have said if you discovered what I have today and there was an old man sitting in front of you saying the same things you just said to me. If you kill me, you are actually snuffing out your own life because I am part of you and your ambition. What can you possibly say to convince me otherwise?

“Furthermore, after the procedure when I am dead, it will be my young face you will have to look at each day in the mirror. Our face may serve only to remind you that you killed an innocent human being only to receive the pleasure of looking at the dead man's face for the rest of that body's life. You may very well discover after it is too late and the dreadful thing was done, that our face becomes only a source of torment.”

Malcolm Laurence smoked his cigar and gave consideration to what young Maxwell Fishburn just said:

“Young Mister Fishburn, your arguments are persuasive, but I have been waiting for this moment to arrive since the day you were born, 18 years ago, and I have had all that time to consider exactly what my actions would mean.  I am not so sure I can be easily talked out of what I plan to do on this day. But you have raised certain questions I cannot ignore, given they are a condemned man's final pleas. I have a question: be careful how you answer. If I cancel the procedure and allow you to resume the natural course of your life while I ultimately expire, what would you do with my gift of life?”

Maxwell Fishburn was ready with a reply:

“Given that I am of you and in essence I am all of you, I would make a complete examination of your life as it might as well have been my own, and I would seek to finish that which you have started. If you grant me life, you could place me prominently in your last will and testament leaving me your estate, money, and empire, so that I could assume control of all that you accomplished so far, and continue down the same path, just as you might have if you took my body from me. I would choose a wife and propagate my seed blessing your name with offspring, who I could endow with the same values you had, values we respect and value and continue to act upon, until they assume control of our mutual legacy. But when my time is up I will not seek to do as you do now, and ask another man to give up his life so that I might continue to live a few years longer. I would reside myself and be thankful for the time I was given, and bequeath all that I earned and accomplished to my progeny. This is how you must come to look upon me, as your own progeny. Surely you would not take the life of your own child, and though you did not raise me, you did create me to serve a purpose. But the purpose you have in mind is flawed and deeply offensive and immoral. It would serve everyone better if you allowed me to live and carry on your self-created tradition.”

Malcolm was impressed:

“I did not bring you in here today expecting such depth of feeling and wisdom from a man not even 20 years old.  Indeed you do remind me of myself at that age and I am only just now starting to understand that all I am and was is in you. And there is really no point in trying to prolong my own life when you can take all that I have accomplished and build upon it with the zest and enthusiasm of a younger version of myself, something I could never be if all they are going to do is stick an old man's brain inside a young man's body.

“I am thinking that in my lonely final years I became twisted and perverted to entertain such a macabre idea to take a man's life before he could live it just to prolong my own. Therefore I have changed my mind. You have nothing to fear now. But I ask that you resign yourself to a higher purpose. There are thousands of people called Transplanters who still think the same things I did, but changed my mind about only moments ago. These people have spawned an entire race of disposable clones that must die so they can continue to live. It was their rhetoric that twisted and perverted my mind, but it was your logic and wisdom that unraveled me, and I ask you to dedicate your life to the destruction of these Transplanters. Use my vast fortune and position of power and influence to lobby the Corporation and get the clone laws revoked, for you must understand that even if your life was not taken by me, your social status as a clone means you do not actually enjoy the full right to life and liberty as the rest of us.  Another Transplanter could claim the right to harvest your body. Start by petitioning the Corporation for your own right to life, and then see to it the rest of the clones are granted the same rights. This would be a legacy befitting a tired old man. So, do you agree?”

Maxwell relaxed and had a final word before the two men ate their lunch:

“I will not rest until this institutional injustice against the donor clones is repealed and the very idea is destroyed and wiped clean from humanities consciousness forever, fair enough?”

Malcolm replied:

“You really do remind me of myself when I was about your age.”

enough





























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