Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Transplant memories revisited

This story about an organ recipient developing a taste for foods that his donor was fond of is another in a long line of similar reports. One such earlier story was about a heart recipient who started listening to classical music and buying classical cd's after receiving the heart of a musician. This phenomenon of "cellular transference" or "transplant memories" has not been proven as far as I know but these stories keep cropping up.

The joy of a heart's desire - why organ donation is a wonderful gesture

By Richard Noone: The Daily Telegraph - Australia

IT seemed too real to be mere coincidence - and it brought joy to Kaden Delaney's family.

Kaden's parents Greg and Shelley spent two years finding David Waters, whose life was saved when he received their son's heart after he died in a car crash. But in an exchange of emails they learned Mr Waters amazingly had developed a taste for Burger Rings - which was Kaden's favorite snack treat.

The Delaney's second eldest son was left brain dead after rolling his brother's car into an embankment near their home in Orange, in the state's Central West, in April 2006. In line with his wishes, they donated the 17-year-old's heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys.

Two years and countless key internet word searches later Mrs Delaney tracked down Mr Waters, the recipient of Kaden's heart.

The 24-year-old from Adelaide suffered a stiffening of the heart ventricles and had months to live.

When they began email contact Mr Waters asked: "Did Kaden like Burger Rings? That's all I seemed to want to eat after my surgery."

Mrs Delaney responded: "I have been informed by a reliable source - Talby, (Kaden's brother) that Kaden loved Burger Rings."

Mr Waters replied: "I certainly think I have got some traits from him, Burger Rings right after the op, I never used to eat them before."

The theory the brain is not the only organ to store memories or personality traits and memory as a process can form in other parts of the body such as the heart has been coined "cellular memory".

The most famous reported case was American Claire Sylvia, a heart-lung transplant recipient, who documented her sudden craving for beer, chicken nuggets and green peppers in a best-selling memoir after discovering her donor was an 18-year-old male who died in a motorcycle accident.

Westmead Millennium Institute professor and president of the International Transplantation Society Jeremy Chapman said the phenomenon had not been proven.

"There is no scientific basis of such a claim," he said. "There's so much fiction around transplants."

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Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register

In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant.

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