Sunday, January 10, 2010

Would you take the heart of a criminal?

Kim, today you told me that you like books such as The Time Traveller's Wife. Based on that fact, my book recommendation for you is Change of Heart by Jodi Piccoult. It's literary fiction with deeper thoughts than just everyday chick lit. Usually Jodi Piccoult's books deal with moral, complicated conflicts, and I particularly like the one showcased in Change of Heart.

In this novel, a woman's husband is killed in a car accident. She ends up re-marrying--with the police officer that helped her. She had a child by the first man, though. Then she has a second child with the police officer, but that child grows up having a very weak heart. The woman and the policeman hire a construction worker off the street to build a room in their house. However, the woman drives home from the grocery store one day to find that her street is blocked off, and police are everywhere. Her husband and first daughter have been killed by the construction worker. The worker is caught with the daughter's underwear in his pocket, convicted, and sentenced to death. Upon his execution, though, he wants to donate his heart to the woman's second child.

Thus, the question: would you take the heart of a criminal, specifically one who killed your family members? My answer is yes, hands down. If it was a match, then I'd take matter who it came from.

However, can heart transplants also transplant the personality of the donor? Some say yes, including a prominent professor at the University of Arizona. Check out the below info:

Gary Schwartz, professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, who first carried out a series of studies called the After Life Experiments - which validated the idea that consciousness lives on after we die - will present fascinating new research intotransplant memory which suggests that some people who have received organ transplants seem to undergo major personality transformations, and even develop new abilities which the donor possessed.

Professor Schwartz has detailed over 70 cases which demonstrate this phenomenon.

In one such case, a young dancer received a heart-and-lung transplant. Before the operation, she had been very health-conscious; yet, the very first thing she did on leaving the hospital was to head for a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, and wolf down an order of chicken nuggets‹something she would never have done before. Her personality changed, too: she became aggressive and impetuous whereas, before, she had been calm and conservative.

She decided to investigate and, after much battling against the medical bureaucracy, she discovered that her heart­lung donor was an 18-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. He had been an aggressive and impetuous lad who had a passion for Kentucky Fried Chicken--in fact, uneaten KFC nuggets had been found in his motorcycle jacket on the very day of his death.

Another notable case is that of an eight-year-old girl who had received the heart of a 10-year-old girl who had been brutally murdered. After the transplant, the recipient began to experience horrifying nightmares. Her dreams were consistently about being murdered, and they were so traumatic that a psychiatrist was called in to help. What he heard convinced him that the girl was describing the actual circumstances of her donor's murder. When the details were given to the police, these proved to be so accurate that the killer was easily identified and apprehended.

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