Several things from my childhood get clustered round the idea that I was about eight-ish. One of them was a fantastic trip to visit relatives in Canada. Another was acute appendicitis and a subsequent emergency appendectomy. I swapped my inflamed appendix for a cool looking scar and a few weeks off school to convalesce. Since the accepted wisdom was that the appendix was a puzzling, non-functional part of the human body, it seemed like a good deal.
Some recent research, from the pages of Scientific American, is now suggesting that your appendix could save your life. Professor Bill Parker has spotted that people with intact appendixes seem better able to survive severe gut infections such as cholera. I get the impression that the jury is still out on his theory but it would make sense that the appendix does something in humans. I had better be doubly careful if I visit places with such infections, just in case.