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Transplant Athlete
Saturday, June 06, 2009
  Clean Heart - SADE

Where is our soul? Where are our memories stored?

There are some in the transplant community who believe that people store their memories throughout the body, so-called cellular memory. I have a friend who swears he has a connection to his heart donor, he says one day that he started crying when he heard Sade on the radio and normally he would have turned it off, because he hates Sade, but that day he listened and cried. Sometime later, he met his donor family and found out that his donor liked Sade.

A bunch of hooey if you ask me, but you might think it's harmless enough. It isn't. According to this article, 1 in 3 transplant recipients believe they have taken on characteristics of their donor. In this study, 20 students were told to imagine they needed a life-saving (what part of life-saving did they not understand) transplant and they were shown pictures of possible donors and asked to rate how happy they would be to receive an organ from them. They went back through the exercise, only this time they were told the pictures represented "good" and "bad" people. The people who were "bad" had higher negative scores, with the highest negative scores going to a 'murderer's' heart. To some on the organ transplant list, they don't get to pick and choose. Liver patients in particular have to take an organ or they will die, there is no treatment that will keep them alive to wait for another. Heart patients can be kept alive for awhile without a heart, but not indefinitely. I can stay alive on dialysis, but trust me it sucks.

There are a lot of myths out there that are held by ignorant people regarding organ donation. A good friend of mine believes that if she signs an organ donor card and gets in to an accident that doctors won't work to save her life, they'll carve her up for her organs. This is a perfectly rational woman with a college degree. Other people believe that you can't have an open casket funeral if you donate or that their families will be charged if they become organ donors. In this day and age, when over 100,000 people are waiting for a life-saving transplant, it's important that we debunk these myths.

There is no such thing as cellular memory. I think most of these incidents can be chalked up to the use of corticosteroids in the recipient. My buddy listening to Sade and crying? prednisone causes mood swings and will make you cry. Guy craving snickers bars? Prednisone increases the appetite and makes you crave sweets. Woman who is angry after the transplant? Prednisone causes mood swings and can make you very angry.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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