Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dead Babies

I have a horrible tendency to be callous about dead babies because there are so many of them in my personal life and i can't really talk about why without hurting people more, so i don't and then i freak people out when i come across as uncaring.  This issue has come up a lot.  The thing is, my past is typical of a person from before the twentieth century or outside the developed world because of this, but that doesn't give me any special status.  It just means that the death of children is a background to my whole life, and i need to be discreet about these things but can't always manage it.

So here's today's video, which refers obliquely to these particular skeletons in the cupboard:

Click to tweet: .  This is about two things, which is bad news of course, but both are connected with organ donation.  The first issue is the recent change in policy to an opt-out system and the added incentive of the willingness to donate bumping one up in the transplant list.  The problem with this is not so much unfairness, although i do think it is unfair, as providing an incentive based on self-interest to donate organs.  When this is done with blood, it leads to a reduction in quality of the blood supply.  I'm not sure how this would play out with organ donation, but am suspicious that it will have some kind of negative effect.

The other issue is the question of memory and personality traits being carried in organs.  This is where things slide off into insanity, but basically, it's claimed by some people that personality traits can be manifested by the recipients of organs.  Some of this is clearly explicable by transference in a psychodynamic sense but not the example i mention concerning the corneal transplant, which is also time-reversed.  However, there could be some explanation if it turns out some of the autonomic system has also been transferred - thrill-seeking behaviour or anxiety for instance.  

Another phenomenon which is currently occupying my mind is the transference of foetal material to the maternal brain and other parts of the body.  I seem to remember that this is two-way, so the next baby will contain cells from elder siblings.  If such siblings turn out to have died, or in fact never to have been born, the only surviving parts of their body will be in the surviving siblings, and that's really quite freaky, particularly in the light of the idea of personality transfer.  At this point i should probably stop talking!

OK, that sounds nuts, doesn't it?  I'm going to explain myself more clearly now, i hope.

Firstly, for whatever reason, transplant recipients sometimes report memories and acquire personality traits which seem to be from their dead donors.  Most of the time this can be made sense of in terms of either the recipient's imagination or perhaps the influence of the physiological functions of the organs such as the relative lability of the autonomic nervous system, but sometimes less explicable things happen.

So that's fact number 1.  Here's fact number 2 (ringing any bells that?):  maternal bodies contain cells from the foetuses they've carried.  Also, this is less clear in my mind and may just be wishful thinking.  I think some cells from older foetuses cross over into later foetal bodies.  Moreover, the maternal brain is "colonised" by foetal brain cells.  Put all this together and imagine this scenario.  A female foetus does not reach full term and dies.  Some of its cells have entered the mother's body.  That mother then goes on to conceive another child who does survive, and cells from that female foetus, perhaps brain cells, occupy that male foetus's brain, and also other organs.  That foetus survives to become a baby boy and grows up, but he finds himself wishing he was female.

I'm not saying anything else about that publicly.