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      Kirklin Clinic's main building, a five-story architectual success.
      The Kirklin Clinic is located on the edge
      of the UAB campus in downtown Birmingham.

      What's Right with Birmingham: A Short Sermon

      I'm so tired of listening to people complain about Birmingham's backward ways that I want to preach a short sermon on a couple of state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line institutions right here in the Magic City. To begin with, right in the heart of downtown Birmingham is the Alabama School of Fine Arts (AFSA), one of the very best public high schools in the United States. Just a few months ago AFSA was named the fourth best public high school in the country, and last spring the 50 graduating seniors earned over two million dollars in scholarships, enough per senior on average to equal five full scholarships apiece to Alabama or Auburn. Also, I've seen with my own eyes just how good AFSA is. Last week, for example, I went to see the AFSA production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It is amazing that those teenage students can put on a full-scale dramatic production with acting, sets, costumes, scenery and technical effects that would make most professional acting companies proud. Even more impressive than AFSA, however, is Birmingham's Kirklin Clinic, a state-of-the-art center for organ transplants. I was very proud to learn that people come to Kirklin from all over the world for replacement hearts, livers, kidneys, eyes, and even lungs. And, even though the clinic is a five-story building chock-full of doctors and even fuller with patients, Kirklin is so well-run that patients and their families never have to worry about long waits to see the doctors or piles of forms to fill out while waiting. And, just like AFSA, I've seen Kirklin with my own eyes. I have a young friend from Mobile who suffers from cystic fibrosis, and I have spent at least fifteen hours helping him make the rounds of lab work and doctor visits necessary to get him a double lung transplant operation. Never once have we found the least reason to complain of our treatment at Kirklin Clinic. It is clearly as good as a clinic can be. So, with such institutions as AFSA and the Kirklin Clinic in Birmingham, it really doesn't make sense to consider the city backward, especially since at least those two institutions are as good as can be found anywhere on the planet.

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