I’ve seen this photograph very frequently on tumblr and Facebook, always with the simple caption, “Ghost Heart”. What exactly is a ghost heart?
More than 3,200 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the United States. Some won’t survive the wait. Last year, 340 died before a new heart was found.
The solution: Take a pig heart, soak it in an ingredient commonly found in shampoo and wash away the cells until you’re left with a protein scaffold that is to a heart what two-by-four framing is to a house.
Then inject that ghost heart, as it’s called, with hundreds of millions of blood or bone-marrow stem cells from a person who needs a heart transplant, place it in a bioreactor - a box with artificial lungs and tubes that pump oxygen and blood into it - and wait as the ghost heart begins to mature into a new, beating human heart.
Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, has been working on this— first using rat hearts, then pig hearts and human hearts - for years.
The process is called decellularization and it is a tissue engineering technique designed to strip out the cells from a donor organ, leaving nothing but connective tissue that used to hold the cells in place.
This scaffold of connective tissue - called a “ghost organ” for its pale and almost translucent appearance - can then be reseeded with a patient’s own cells, with the goal of regenerating an organ that can be transplanted into the patient without fear of tissue rejection.
This ghost heart is ready to be injected with a transplant recipient’s stem cells so a new heart - one that won’t be rejected - can be grown.
Well today was a half day at schooldue to the incoming snow storm and we didn’t get lunch there so I was invited to osakas by Sable. Well turns out Ana and Jessica were also going to osakas so we all went together. Had lunch at osakas with some cute girls, talking about Jessica’s crime history and vegetables. After that we went to an oriental store next to osakas where Jessica nad the great idea of putting on a sombrero and wore a flag like a robe. I got some orange soda stuff and some “Oriental Moonpies”.
- Assistant: *while prepping a brown dog for a neuter* This dog's got white fur just on his penis! His penis is aging faster than the rest of him!
- Vet: Nah. Them's his racing stripes!
Aliens looking at Earth
I’ve never really thought about it until last night on the science channel show I was watching. For any alien that may be looking through the galaxy at us, all they’d see is the past Earth since it takes time for light to travel. The same is true the other way. The planets we are looking at or the stars we see may already be dead but since they are so far away the light is still traveling to us. So is could one travel through time just by going faster than the speed of light? If you instantly teleport to a distant planet in the galaxy and look at Earth you wouldn’t see it as it was when you left. All you see is the light from the Earth of the past. Interesting…
What is death?
As I was watching “Hamlet” in english class when Gertrude died I had a thought of, “What exactly is death, what determines death?”
Is it not breathing? Well your heart can still beat and brain still function.
Is it no pulse? Well you could still be breathing and have brain activity.
Is it no brain activity? Well the heart and lungs can still work.
Or is it a combination of all three? Well of course it is duh.
So what is one without the other? Without brain activity is one still truly “alive”? Without brain function are we still ourselves or just a dead shell of what used to be? But then again what about those who emerge from comas? How can someone be both dead and alive at the same time? Where does the consciousness go during all of this? Are we merely temporary tenants of this ship we call a body with an expiration date? These keep me up at night.