Throughout my reading of Clay’s Ark I found myself hoping that an unidentifiable disease like this one would never spread in today’s world.
In the class discussion, we shared our opinions on what we would do if we had been the Maslins, would we stay in the enclave where the disease was ‘controlled’ (a very loose term since the disease seemed to be controlling those it inhabited) or would we leave in search for a cure but potentially risk spreading the disease? Initially I believed that I would leave the enclave in order to search for a cure, but after a discussion in my Sociology of Medicine class I began to think differently. We discussed an article in the New York Time’s column called Diagnoses titled “What Caused This College Student’s Stomach Pain and Vomiting?” where a 19 year old college student faced inexplicable pain and nausea that eventually left her to be found unconscious and in a comatose where she only responded to pain stimuli. Similar to Blake’s assessment of Meda, the test results could not identify the problem that left the student in a rigid, unresponsive state. Unfortunately after 8 days and no progress, the student was pronounced brain dead, leaving doctor’s overwhelmingly confused.
The aspect of the case that made me rethink my premise of leaving the enclave to get help was what happened after the brain death. The parents agreed to donate their daughter’s organs, including her heart, liver, and kidneys to recipients in need . While donating organs is thought to be giving someone else a second chance and is truly the gift of life, unfortunately the liver recipient died days after his transplant. It was only after the death of another person, that the transplant team was able to find the cause of the student’s death, a genetic defect that left her without critical digestive enzymes. When reading the article, I could not help but find the similarities to Blake’s decision to leave the enclave in order to seek treatment and help his daughters. Blake was not sure what the disease was, but still rationalized taking the disease out of its bubble even with Meda’s warning, “So if you’re afraid of an epidemic, Doctor, don’t even think about leaving us. Even if you spread the word, you can’t possibly stop us” (Butler 500). This mirrored the student’s doctor’s actions of donating the organs without having a definitive diagnosis. Donating the student’s organs only spread the defect even when doing one of the most selfless acts after death and while Blake tried to escape the enclave in order to find a cure for his daughters, he only ended up spreading this horrific disease further. While leaving the enclave had been a selfless act, he only made the situation much worse and led to the spread of the disease and the probable end of human race. There would have been many influences on my decision on whether to leave the enclave if I had been in Blake’s shoes, but both this student’s situation and Blake’s reinforced that no matter how good your intentions are, you may not be able to control the outcome of your actions.
Link to NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/magazine/what-caused-this-college-students-stomach-pain-and-vomiting.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdiagnosis&action=click&contentCollection=magazine®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection