Science Fiction #2

Alice woke up in a strange room. The window drapes were open, and morning sunlight was streaming in softly. As she looked around, the TV on the console came to life, and a friendly middle-aged face looked back at her.

“Good morning, Alice, it’s Tuesday, the 16th of July, the year is twenty seventy-four” the face in the TV said, and the date flashed on the screen below her chin.

“Where am I, Diane?” Alice asked. She called the lady in the TV Diane when she was calm, Dinah when she was upset, and Hey you! when she couldn’t remember.

“You’re visiting your son, Sam, and this is his house. Mark, his son, is six years old, and his wife is Joanna; she’s a writer.”

“Yes, I remember that,” Alice said with a hint of impatience as she made her way to the bathroom to wash and get ready. “What are the plans for today?”

“You don’t remember?” the lady in the TV said with smile. “You’re visiting the dock to see the fish being brought in. Wear something cool and colorful with your sandals and bring a large hat.”

Alice got dressed as suggested, and took her medicine when she saw the pillbox on her dressing table. She still could remember to do some things without Diane’s reminders, as she was only in the early stages of dementia. She took her bluetooth earpiece off the charger and put it to her ear, and switched it on. Diane’s voice came on in her ear. “Bluetooth power on. Ready to face the world, Alice?”

“Let’s go,” said Alice, and she opened the door.

__________________________________________

I hope when my time comes, the technology is ready. Caregiving is a hard task, and caregivers have their own lives to live too. Technology can help facilitate daily living for those who are starting to forget, so that the caregivers do not have to be there every single minute.

Much of the technology is already there, but it is not yet put together:

  • there are electronic calendars to remind us what to do. I not only schedule daily tasks, but annual check-ups and payments too. The calendar reminds me when birthdays are coming up, or when the car tune-up is due.
  • voice recognition software has improved rapidly in the last few years, and although not quite ideal yet, it can only get better with time.
  • computer search engines are so good they can guess what you are searching for with just a few hints. Coupled with voice recognition, computers will soon be able to anticipate our needs and respond accordingly
  • computers have shrunk and many of us use our handphones as mini PCs. We can carry the computing power with us in pockets and handbags, and connect to it verbally and aurally via earpieces.

In the above story, Alice is only in the early stages of dementia. I will write more stories of how technology might help those in the later stages… another day.

 

I am trying to write a series of short fiction. For the previous story, click below:

Science Fiction #1

Science Fiction #1

The following is fiction. Please don’t be offended, I’ve taken liberties with conventions and beliefs. This is an exercise in outrageous extrapolation.

The year: 2100

Prof Hock Ai snapped off his surgical gloves and stomped out of the operating theatre. Damn, they were getting younger and younger. That last patient was just 53 years old, still attractive and the mother of a teenager. Hock Ai was the lead surgeon for a team of specialist harvesters, and his team had just removed┬áthe patient’s liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, gut, skin, corneas, face and thigh bones for transplant into a dozen or so other patients who needed those organs and body parts.

Hock Ai put his palms up to his eyes and rubbed. To think that only yesterday, his patient had been full of vitality and perfectly healthy. Well, almost. She had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and tests showed she had some 5 years more to go before becoming completely dependant on others for care. Most patients put it off till later, but some feared the disease so much they presented themselves to the harvesters very early.

How did it come to this? Hock Ai pondered. The fact was everybody dies, and death occurs when vital organs fail. Unfortunately, the vital organs did not deteriorate in unison. There was a mismatch – on the one hand, a sector of contributing members of society with failing organs, and another sector with healthy organs who were dependent because of failing brains. It was only a matter of time because altruism crept into the Euthanasia Act and Multi-Organ Harvesting became a new surgical subspecialty.

Hock Ai looked up at the clock – the short hand pointed at 4 and the long hand at 2. ┬áHe tried to remember… had he had breakfast?

Five facts about Organ Donation today (2012):

1. Posthumous organ donation (of kidneys, liver, heart and cornea) is mandated by law in Singapore unless you have opted out under the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA):

“All Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents 21 years old and above*, and are of sound mind, are included under HOTA. Those who choose to remain under HOTA will have a chance to help others, in addition to a higher priority in receiving a deceased donor organ if they need such a transplant in the future.”

Source: Live On

2. It was long suspected that China harvested organs from executed prisoners. This fact has just been acknowledged in an announcement by health officials that the practice would be phased out.

3. A notorious Singapore prisoner, “one-eyed dragon”, sentenced to hang, is strongly believed to have made a directed posthumous donation requesting that one of his kidney’s be given to a businessman. (See the newslink here). That businessman had been under investigation for allegedly trying to purchase an Indonesian kidney.

4. Couple of movies about Organ Donation, altruistic or not:
“Never let me go” – based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s book
“Seven Pounds” – starring Will Smith.

5. There is no such thing as a brain transplant, so you cannot donate a brain to an Alzheimer’s patient.