Do cells have feelings and emotions? As far as I’m concerned they don’t, however I do firmly believe that your state of mind influence the ‘health’ of your cells. I also believe the old saying ‘healthy body healthy mind’. What really interests me though is a theory/phenomenon called Cellular Memory. It involves the idea that “things as memories, habits, interests, and tastes may somehow be stored in all the cells of human bodies, i.e. not only in the brain”. This would mean that with organ transplants information and energy stored in the organ is passed on to the recipient. The theory would apply to any organ that has cells that are interconnected, but it seems like heart-transplant recipients are most affected.
What are the consequences of this, should it be true? According to those who believe in it, organ recipients experienced changes in personality traits, tastes for food, music, activities and even sexual preference after their transplants. Many such stories have been recorded. One of the most dramatic examples, according to an article by Leslie A. Takeuchi, is ‘… an eight-year-old girl who received the heart of a ten-year-old girl who had been murdered. After the transplant, the recipient had horrifying nightmares of a man murdering her donor. The dreams were so traumatic that psychiatric help was sought. The girl’s images were so specific that the psychiatrist and the mother notified the police. According to the psychiatrist, “. . .using the description from the little girl, they found the murderer. He was easily convicted with the evidence the patient provided. The time, weapon, place, clothes he wore, what the little girl he killed had said to him . . . everything the little heart transplant recipient had reported was completely accurate.”’
While some stories are very dramatic, there are also more ‘ordinary’ examples of people whose taste in food have changed etc. According to Takeuchi’s article, Dr Mehmet Oz, famous for appearing on the Oprah Show, believes that there must be something to it. “Mehmet Oz, MD, heart surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, has invited an energy healer, Julie Motz, into the operating room during transplant surgery. Initially, Motz practiced energy healing to help reduce anxiety prior to surgery and depression following surgery. Then the team noticed that there seemed to be less incidence of rejection in these patients. They were curious to see what would happen if she were present during the operation. Motz registers, through sensations in her own body, the emotional state of the patient during the surgical procedure. Through her touch or words, Motz attempts to alleviate any worries, fears or anger the patient may be experiencing. She works with the recipient’s ability to accept the new organ and also works with the donated tissue so it will accept a new body. The results have been favorable, and the team reports reduced rejection and increased survival rates”
However not everyone feels this way about Cellular Memory. According to The Skeptic’s Dictionary “Maybe our ancestors were right. Eating the heart of one’s enemy might give you his courage. Eating brains might make you smarter. Maybe the promoters of TCM are right: eating seal penises can restore erectile function. But what if you eat too much chicken? Might you grow a beak, start clucking uncontrollably, and develop a craving for seeds? Are those squealing and mooing sounds you hear in the night your diabetic neighbors who are using porcine and bovine insulin? Pity the poor child who received a baboon’s heart.” Admittedly, eating something is not the same as having it transplanted in your body! More seriously though, they do feel that ‘an organ transplant is a life-altering experience, literally. It might well be compared to the near-death experience since transplants are done only if death is imminent. It should not be surprising to find that many transplant recipients change significantly. Some of these changes might easily be interpreted as being consistent with the donor’s likes and dislikes or behaviors. Recipients would want to know about their donor and might consciously or unconsciously be influenced by stories about the person who now “lives inside them.”’.
I also feel that the effect of post-transplant medications should be taken into account. For example Prednisone may cause increased appetite, depression and changes in personality. The human mind is also very suggestible. If I for example had to be told that my donor loved a certain kind of food or music, I could definitely start imagining liking those things myself. And because I’ve seen no difference in myself, I’m not convinced…