Cody Banks was able to relax in his parents’ law office on a summer afternoon recently, surrounded by boxes and boxes of his last wishes and boxes of notebooks.
Banks, 23, knows his time to live is running out.
Banks was born with only one kidney, a condition that results in him having severe malnutrition. He was 3 days old when he received a kidney transplant from his mother. In 2015, he needed another donor.
But it took Banks a few years to find him.
Banks worked at a receptionist job at a baby-food company, one that offered only 70 hours of work per week. He continued to work until recently, when his benefits stopped. But with insurance, he earned about $2,000 per month.
Banks hasn’t eaten solid food for 20 years, except for special pasta or porridge every few months. When he chokes, he can feel a drop of blood and exhaustion in his mouth.
For the last two years, Banks has been a patient at the Sean Parker Center for Therapeutic Laser Therapy in Alexandria, Virginia. He is receiving work force training there, and he has undergone so many different treatments – but this week his therapist announced that he had just finished the acupuncture laser session required to attain work force eligibility.
“I just can’t believe I get a job in a few weeks and I was wasting time and money on real estate brokerages,” Banks said.
Banks hopes to find a federal job in this nation, but he wonders if he will have the same opportunities that he could get if he had been born with a full set of kidneys.
His medical history shows that abortion must be legal in his lifetime, and when asked how that influenced his sense of justice, Banks choked up.
“I believe in justice and you don’t give it to someone that’s not deserving,” Banks said. “I don’t know why people think it’s wrong. People are dying and innocent.”
Kate Healy, executive director of the sexual health organization Nurse Practitioners for Reproductive Justice, said Banks’ case is a perfect example of the intersection between justice and health.
“For him to exist in that kind of condition and realize that he had a chance to live and not be killed for being born, I think that was just beyond what anyone would think about human dignity,” Healy said.