Memory transference in organ transplant recipients

There have been perplexing reports of organ transplant receivers claiming that they seem to have inherited the memory, experiences and emotions of their deceased donors, causing  quirky changes in their personality.  We will present a few cases and then discuss a possible explanation in the light of the occult insights of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa.

Cases of personality changes due to organ transplants

Before we discuss the cases, it is pertinent to note that apart from miscellaneous information such as gender, age and cause of death, profiles of organ donors are traditionally kept concealed from their recipients for psychological reasons. The cases discussed here came to light after mysterious behavioral symptoms resulted in renunciation of the traditional donor-recipient anonymity.

Case 1: On May 29, 1988, an American woman named Claire Sylvia received a heart transplant at a hospital in Yale, Connecticut.  She was told that her donor was a eighteen-year old male from Maine, USA who had just died in a motorcycle accident.  Soon after the operation, Sylvia declared that she felt like drinking beer, something she wasn’t particularly fond of.  Later, she observed an uncontrollable urge to eat chicken nuggets and found herself wanting to visit the popular chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken.  She also began craving for green peppers which  was something she hadn’t particularly  liked before.  Sylvia also began having recurring dreams about a mystery man named Tim L., who she had a feeling was her donor.  On a cue from someone, she searched for obituaries in newspapers from Maine, and was able to identify the young man whose heart she had received.  His name had indeed been Tim.  After visiting Tim’s family, she discovered that he used to love chicken nuggets, green peppers and beer.  These experiences are documented in her book “A Change of Heart” by Claire Sylvia. [1]

Case 2: This story comes from an article in the Daily Mail [2].  William Sheridan, a retired catering manager with poor drawing skills, suddenly developed artistic talents after a heart transplant operation. He was amazed to discover that the man who donated his new heart had been a keen artist.

Case 3: A forty seven-year-old Caucasian male, who received a heart from an African-American teenager, was puzzled to find in himself a newfound taste for classical music.  He presumed that the donor must have liked rap music and dismissed the idea that the organ transplant had anything to do with his changed personality.  He was surprised to learn that the donor had been an avid violin player, and had died while clutching his violin case to his chest.  [3]

Case 4: An eight-year-old girl, who received the heart of a ten-year-old girl who had been murdered, began having recurring vivid nightmares about the murder. Her mother arranged a consultation with a psychiatrist and after several sessions, the girl’s psychiatrist decided she was experiencing actual physical incidents.  They decided to call the police who used the detailed descriptions of the murderer given by the little girl to find and convict the man in question.  [3]

Paul Pearsall(1942-2007) and his colleagues, Gary Schwartz and Linda Russek, have collected the accounts of 74 patients, 23 of whom were heart transplant recipients.  These reports have been published in [3, 4, 5].  You can read one of the reports at http://www.paulpearsall.com/info/press/3.html

Skeptical Explanations

Skeptics might put forth one of the following explanations for this phenomenon:

  1. The heart is a vital organ and a new heart can breathe new power into the body and change the personality.
  2. Heart transplant patients may be subconsciously influenced by the information provided or overheard during their hospital stay.  Incidentally, this has been dubbed the “hospital grapevine theory”.

These theories may explicate some cases but not Case 4, where the organ recipient’s dreams led to the conviction of the murderer.

Explanations verging on the mystical

Some scientists have proposed the concept of “cellular memory” to explain the transference of memory in organ transplants.  They have said that the mind is not just  in the brain but is in fact active in every cell of the body. Paul Pearsall proposed that immunosuppressant drugs injected during transplants could conceivably lower the threshold in patients to allow them to register cellular memories which were potentially stored in the  transplanted organs [5].  Pharmacologist Candace Pert proposed “Molecules of emotion” as a sort of biochemical correlate of emotion which is stored in every cell [6].   In Claire Sylvia’s book A Change of Heart, a spiritual medium speculates that these experiences were caused because the donor’s spirit was still attached to the earth and had not yet moved to it’s abode in the higher subtle worlds [1].

These hypotheses are aligned with some of the occult insights offered by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the nature of memory and the process of death.   Regarding the concept of “cellular memory”, this is what Sri Aurobindo had to say:

Disciple : What is memory ? Is it a mental faculty ?

Sri Aurobindo : Memory is everywhere. All that one is conscious of or not, is recorded in the “Prana“, the basic stuff of consciousness. But one remembers only that which one has attentively heard and fixed in his mind. But generally these impressions are received by the “Prana” and immediately they sink into the sub­conscious, or the subliminal consciousness, or whatever you like to call it.

There is the recorded instance of the servant girl of a famous French scholar of Hebrew. She used to hear, while at work, her master repeating the Bible in Hebrew.    To her it was meaningless gibberish. Then when she was in an abnormal condition she repeated her master’s speech exactly, with the same accents and without a mistake.  And evidently she knew nothing of the languagethat is, the mind did not understand anything of it. But all the time it was there recorded in the subconscious being. Even the soles of our feet have got a memory of their own.…we have divided the being into the mental, vital and physical.  But when we speak of the mental, we take the mind working on its own plane, so to say. But all the parts are interconnected and the mind is working from above down right up to the lowest plane of consciousness and so it is with every principle. [7]

But “cellular memory” may not explain everything, because not every organ seems to induce a memory transfer; as far as I know, people who receive donated corneas have not reported any such side-effects.   Therefore, one has to consider the possibility that the the spirit of the dead donor, or various vital sheath fragments which are let loose after death, continue to cling to the organs and thereby influence the recipient’s mind.   Given the fact that organ transplants are always done within hours after doctors have diagnosed outer signs of physical death, it is of relevance to note the Mother Mirra Alfassa’s observation that it takes upto seven days  for the soul to evacuate the body.  Perhaps it is the premature organ harvesting which induces the memory transfer from the donor to the receiver ? This was her observation on the process of death:

In the physical form there is the ‘spirit of the form,’ and that spirit of the form persists for a time, even when outwardly the person is said to be dead. And as long as the spirit of the form persists, the body isn’t destroyed. In ancient Egypt they had that knowledge; they knew that if they prepared the body in a certain way, the spirit of the form wouldn’t go away and the body wouldn’t be dissolved. [8]

In another conversation, she expatiated on death and cremation:

…the doctors observe all the outer signs, then they declare you dead, but you’re still in your body!…it’s probably during this period that people are ‘resuscitated,’ as they say, for they have not left their bodies, they are not really dead, though the heart may give every appearance of having stopped.

People in India are in too much of a hurry to burn the dead, sometimes they burn them alive! … They should wait for there’s a consciousness of the form, a life of the form assumed by the cells, which takes seven days to come out.  And that is why sometimes the body makes abrupt movements when burned – people say it’s mechanical. It’s not mechanical, I know it’s not.

So I don’t like this habit of burning people very much….I think they do it here (apart from entirely sanitary considerations in the case of people who have died from nasty diseases), here in India, mainly because they are very afraid of all these little entities that come from desires, impulses – things which are dispersed in the air and which make ‘ghosts’ and all kinds of things.  All desires, all attachments, all those things are like pieces that break off (each one goes its own way, you see), then these pieces gain strength in the surrounding atmosphere, and when they can fasten on to someone, they vampirize him. Then they keep on trying to satisfy their desires [9]

Therefore, it is possible that these fragments of the donor’s vital sheath, which are imbued with the living  memories  of impulses and desires, attach themselves to the organs and find a new home in the organ transplant recipient, thereby inducing the memory transfer.   Here is a note that Sri Aurobindo wrote to a disciple regarding the vital sheath fragments:

The fragments [of a dead person] are not of the inner being (who goes on his way to the psychic world) but of his vital sheath which falls away after death. These can join for birth the vital of some other Jiva(soul) who is being born or they can be used by a vital being to enter a body in process of birth and partly possess it for the satisfaction of its propensities. The junction can also take place after birth.[10]

Documentaries on Cellular Memory and Organ transplants

References

  1. Claire Sylvia.  A Change of Heart:  A Memoir. (New York: Warner Books, 1997).
  2. The Art Transplant. Daily Mail, Mar 31 2006.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-381589/The-art-transplant.html (Accessed Jan 29, 2011)
  3. Paul Pearsall.  The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy (New York: Broadway Books, 1999).
  4. Paul Pearsall, et al.  Organ Transplants and Cellular Memories. Nexus Magazine, Volume 12, Number 3 (April – May 2005).
  5. Paul Pearsall, et al.  Changes in Heart Transplant Recipients that Parallel the Personalities of their Donors, Journal of Near-Death Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, Spring 2002.
  6. Candace Pert.  Molecules of Emotion : Why You Feel the Way You Feel (New York: Scribner, 1997).
  7. A.B. Purani.  Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, Second Series (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1982), p 235.
  8. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 5, (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979), p 136.
  9. The Mother.  Mother’s Agenda, vol. 1 (New York: Institute for Evolutionary Research, 1979), May 28, 1960.
  10. Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, SABCL volume 22. (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970), p 446.

See also

  1. The existence of vital signs during sleep or coma
  2. Sleep and Dreams
  3. The brain is not the mind as per Yoga psychology
  4. Embodied cognition in Yoga psychology
  5. Explaining out-of-body and near-death experiences
  6. Sleep disorders : somnambulism and somniloquy
  7. The action of subliminal memory
  8. Similarity between Neurological and Yogic models of human memory
  9. Sri Aurobindo on synchronicity
  10. Ghosts explained
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36 thoughts on “Memory transference in organ transplant recipients

  1. Mohan

    This is quite an interesting post, Sandeep!

    I’m having a hard time accepting what Mother says regarding leaving the cremation till up to 7 days: is she saying that the Jiva takes this amount of time to leave the body? OR is she saying some other Pranic (life) element takes so long to exit the body?

    Do we have the observations on this subject of other Yogins? I think it’d be interesting to see the origin of the recommended time-to-cremation according to Hindu tradition.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      This is from the Theosophist Magazine July 1905-January 1906, p 259

      Question 38: In what manner can the way of disposing of the body of the dead (cremation, burial, etc) affect the state of the departed soul still clinging to terrestrial life?

      Answer: From the teachings of the Theosophical and Kabalistic works, it would appear that – as all operations of Nature are gradual – so after death, the magnetic or fluidic cord which connects or ties the astral to the physical very gradually disintegrates; but, not until its ultimate snapping does the final separation between the two bodies take place. Therefore, up to that time, the Entity living in his astral, in close vicinity to the dead physical, so that, if at all conscious, the Entity will see his physical, and still dimly feel sensations connected with it. Thus it is said that one of the horrors of burial, for certain material souls, is to have to witness the gradual decomposition of their physical body. In a similar manner, a material person will pass through mental tortures while witnessing the dissecting of the physical. Consequently, cremation must also cause a shock and mental agony if done too soon after death, before the magnetic cord is nearly ready to snap. But, of course, all these mental worries are spared to the pure and spiritual, who are no longer bound to the body by earthly desires; in them, the snapping of the cord takes place much quicker, and in the meanwhile they remain in a kind of blissful unconsciousness. Premature cremation will also affect a soul still clinging to material life, by forcing it out of its astral, before it is ready for that next step in posthumous evolution. (A.M).

      Source: http://books.google.com/books?id=GDF8hDk574EC&lpg=PA259&pg=PA259#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Reply
    2. Sandeep Post author

      From page 65-66 of the book Realms of the living dead by Theosophists Harriette Augusta Curtiss and Frank Homer Curtiss.

      “The recently deceased is often strongly, even morbidly attracted to the discarded physical body for some time, hence haunts its burial place…Cremation is therefore always desirable, not only because more sanitary and less revolting to think of, but because it consumes the physical magnetism and this releases the deceased…great care must be taken to see that the cremation is not carried out until the astral body has had time to withdraw completely from the physical body or considerable suffering to the departed one may result…. The best indication as to the proper time for cremation is when definite signs of physical disintegration appears.”

      See http://books.google.com/books?id=sNARAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA66#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Reply
    3. Sandeep Post author

      Another reference from the Theosophists.

      ” After death, then the divine spirit which animated man returns alone to heaven, and leaves upon earth and in the atmosphere two corpses, one terrestrial and elementary, the other aerial and related to the stars; the one already inert, the other still animated by the universal movement of the soul of the world, but foredoomed to die slowly, as absorbed by the astral powers which produced it. When a man has lived a good life, the astral corpse evaporates like a pure incense mounting towards the higher regions; but if the man has lived in crime, his astral corpse, which holds him prisoner, seeks still the objects of its passions and yearns to resume the earthly life.”

      Source: http://theosophy.katinkahesselink.net/Olcott/Vampire-olcott.htm

      Reply
    4. Sandeep Post author

      I just discovered an article by Michael Tymn “Are Organ Transplants Metaphysically Contraindicated?” published in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Religion and Psychical Research, which examines the above topic. See http://www.beyondtheveil.net/organs.html.

      As per this article, The Tibetan Book of the Dead holds that it might take up to three-and-a-half days for the consciousness to leave the body. Here is the relevant text from the Bardo Thodol

      “The interval between the cessation of the expiration and the cessation of the inspiration is the time during which the vital-force remaineth in the median-nerve.

      The common people call this the state wherein the consciousness-principle hath fainted away. The duration of this state is uncertain. [It dependeth] upon the constitution, good or bad, and [the state of] the nerves and vital-force. In those who have had even a little practical experience of the firm, tranquil state of dhyāna, and in those who have sound nerves, this state continueth for a long time.

      In the setting-face-to-face, the repetition [of the above address to the deceased] is to be persisted in until a yellowish liquid beginneth to appear from the various apertures of the bodily organs [of the deceased].

      In those who have led an evil life, and in those of unsound nerves, the above state endureth only so long as would take to snap a finger. Again, in some, it endureth as long as the time taken for the eating of a meal.

      In various Tantras it is said that this state of swoon endureth for about three and one-half days. Most other [religious treatises] say for four days; and that this setting-face-to-face with the Clear Light ought to be persevered in [during the whole time].” (Tibetan Book of the Dead, Book 1, Part 1)

      Source: http://www.summum.us/mummification/tbotd/book1.shtml#p1.firststage

      Reply
  2. Sandeep Post author

    Mohan : is she saying that the Jiva takes this amount of time to leave the body? OR is she saying some other Pranic (life) element takes so long to exit the body?

    The Jiva(soul) exits quickly through the nine gates but there is an elemental consciousness which continues to reside in the body for a few days. As long as that elemental exists, you can even re-enter the body (i.e. resurrection)

    Do we have the observations on this subject of other Yogins? I think it’d be interesting to see the origin of the recommended time-to-cremation according to Hindu tradition.

    Ok. I will check, and so can you!

    Reply
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  4. Sandeep Post author

    The Renaissance era physician and occultist Paracelsus defined the concept of the Mumia – a vital essence which is attached to the organs, which is particularly relevant to the notion of cellular memory. I quote from the book “Paracelsus : life and teachings” by Franz Hartmann, page 37.

    Mumia: The essence of life contained in some vehicle (vitality clinging to some material substance). Parts of the human, animal, or vegetable bodies, if separated from the organism, retain their vital power and their specific action for a while, as is proved by the transplantation of skin, by vaccination, poisoning by infection from corpses, dissection wounds, infection from ulcers, &c. (Bacteria are such vehicles of life.) Blood, excrements, etc., may contain vitality for a while after having been removed from the organism, and there may still exist some sympathy between such substances and the vitality of the organism; and by acting upon the former, the latter may be affected

    Reply
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  6. Sandeep Post author

    A few more strange cases resulting from a heart transplant. These are from an article by Leslie A. Takeuchi – “Cellular Memory in Organ Transplants”

    In another case, a seven-month-old boy received a heart from a 16-month-old boy who had drowned. The donor had a mild form of cerebral palsy mostly on the left side. The recipient, who did not display such symptoms prior to the transplant, developed the same stiffness and shaking on the left side.

    Sexual orientation changed: A 29-year-old lesbian and a fast food junkie received a heart from a 19-year-old woman vegetarian who was “man crazy.” The recipient reported after her operation that meat made her sick and she was no longer attracted to women. If fact, she became engaged to marry a man.

    A 47-year-old man received a heart from a 14-year-old girl gymnast who had problems with eating disorders. After the transplant, the recipient and his family reported his tendency to be nauseated after eating, a childlike exuberance and a little girl’s giggle.

    Reply
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  8. mike

    So, it looks inadvisable to leave your body to science or donate organs at all. Seeing that they take organs immediately after clinical death this could be a nightmare for the person who has just left. Although if your more advanced or perhaps just call on SA and The mother you’d be whisked off instantly.
    Has SA and Mother adviced against donating organs. l’ve always sensed it was wrong somehow, and after reading the above stories l think l might be right.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: Has SA and Mother adviced against donating organs

      The question didn’t arise in their time because human organ transplants are a recent medical invention (1960s). See http://www.organtransplants.org/understanding/history/index.html

      Mike: So, it looks inadvisable to leave your body to science or donate organs at all

      Thats not true. I am afraid I did not present the full picture in the article above. All organ transplants are not bad. Dr Pearsall observed that heart transplants seem to be the most problematic because the heart soaks up all the primal subconscious emotions. Kidney, liver, and other transplants are fine.

      Furthermore, not all heart transplants are bad. Dr Pearsall found that only a fraction of recipients have a problem. He identified eighteen distinguishing traits amongst these people whom he called cardio-sensitives. The problematic recipients had good emotional IQ, were environmentally sensitive, sensual, animal-loving, music-loving, creative types, more inclined to go with the flow rather than dominate. These traits were similar to the characteristics of easily hypnotized subjects and those who were successful energy-connecting operators and percipients in the PEAR (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) program. For more information, see Pearsall’s book The Heart’s Code

      I am not a medical expert but I suspect, given the advances in medical science, organ transplants may soon be replaced by organ regeneration (i.e. growing organs using your own stem cells) See these articles.
      1. Stem Cells Poised To Grow Organs For Transplant
      2. Using a Lab-Grown Trachea, Surgeons Conduct the World’s First Synthetic Organ Transplant on a Cancer patient

      This is a TED talk by Anthony Atala on growing organs

      Reply
      1. ipi

        Heart With No Beat Offers Hope Of New Lease On Life

        The search for the perfect artificial heart seems never-ending. After decades of trial and error, surgeons remain stymied in their quest for a machine that does not wear out, break down or cause clots and infections.

        But Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier at the Texas Heart Institute say they have developed a machine that could avoid all that with simple whirling rotors — which means people may soon get a heart that has no beat.

        […]

        In March, after practicing on 38 calves, Cohn and Frazier felt confident enough to try their device on a human patient. They chose Craig Lewis, a 55-year-old who was dying from amyloidosis, which causes a buildup of abnormal proteins. After the implant, Craig Lewis woke up and recovered somewhat. He could speak and sit up in a chair.

        But then he began to fade as the disease attacked his liver and kidneys.

        “Amyloidosis is horrible,” Linda Lewis says. “I could see the other organs were not cooperating.”

        Craig Lewis lived for more than a month with the pulseless heart. He died in April, due to the underlying disease. His doctors say the pumps themselves worked flawlessly.

        http://www.npr.org/2011/06/13/137029208/heart-with-no-beat-offers-hope-of-new-lease-on-life

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Science is advancing – first artificial heart transplant has now been done

        For the first time, an artificial heart that may give patients up to five years of extra life has been successfully implanted in a 75-year-old French man.

        The artificial heart, designed by French biomedical firm Carmat, is powered by Lithium-ion batteries that can be worn externally.

        The heart that was put into the patient at Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris uses a range of “bio-materials”, including bovine tissue, to reduce the likelihood of the body rejecting it, ‘The Telegraph’ reported.

        This device is intended to replace a real heart for as many as five years, unlike previous artificial hearts that were created mainly for temporary use.

        Read more @
        http://www.indianexpress.com/news/first-human-artificial-heart-transplant-performed-in-france/1210518/

  9. mike

    Just read in the news today that people with transplanted organs are twice as likely to get cancer – tumours form more easily on these organs apparently. Published in an American Medical journal. Of course you have to take the immune-resistant drugs for the rest of your life as well.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      The paper is “Spectrum of Cancer Risk Among US Solid Organ Transplant Recipients” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; vol. 306(17): pp1891-1901. (DOI : 10.1001/jama.2011.1592)

      According to the summary, solid organ transplant recipients have elevated cancer risk due to immunosuppressant drugs used during transplants (which weaken the immune system) and oncogenic viral infections. They used data on 175 732 solid organ transplants (58.4% for kidney, 21.6% for liver, 10.0% for heart, and 4.0% for lung) from the US Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (1987-2008) and 13 state and regional cancer registries. They concluded that compared with the general population, recipients of a kidney, liver, heart, or lung transplant have an increased risk for diverse infection-related and unrelated cancers.

      Reply
  10. Sandeep Post author

    Researchers have for the first time managed to give patients a complete bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. The recipients were also able to accept kidneys from the same donors without the need for immunosuppresive drugs. Normally, such transplants would trigger graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) — an often deadly complication that occurs when immune cells from an unrelated donor attack the transplant recipient’s tissue .

    See http://www.nature.com/news/drug-free-organ-transplants-without-tissue-matching-1.10188

    Reply
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  12. Bhavanajagat

    We may have to make a distinction between death and the dying process. The multicellular human organism does not experience total cellular death at the same instant. Apart from the failure of vital functions like respiration and circulation, the physician takes into consideration the fact of the loss of function of Brainstem which coordinates and maintains the vital functions. With the availability of ventilators and other mechanical devices, the cardio-pulmonary functions can be sustained after the death or loss of function of Brainstem. At that time, a decision to donate various body organs and tissues is made. These organs and tissues which could be otherwise healthy could be used in other suitable recipients and have to be used quickly. There are two aspects of consciousness; 1. the contents of consciousness; this refers to the cortical awareness, the contents that are known to a fully alert person in a state called Arousal, and the 2. the composition of consciousness; the information is received and is processed by the Reticular Formation of the Brainstem and it is blocked or selectively projected to different parts of the Central Nervous System, and the information that is relayed to the cerebral cortex causes cortical awareness of that selected information. The body is aware of a vast amount of information and if all of this is routinely projected to the cerebral cortex, it would be a huge burden causing information overload and is not compatible with well-being of the person. The Reticular Formation protects our existence and maintains peace, harmony, and tranquility in the experience of our subjective living experience. The function called cognition and memory is a function of the biological membrane/plasma membrane of the cell. You may call it a ‘vital sheath’ or outer limiting membrane or external layer of the cell. A living cell to perform its living functions needs this separation of its living matter from its immediate external environment. However, I would not like to suggest that the biological membranes of cardiac cells get exposed to information such as the taste or flavor of organic molecules that man is exposed. The perception of such sense information like that of taste and smell need the assistance of special organs which have the ability to detect those chemical molecules that contribute to those sensations. It would not be reasonable to suggest that cardiac cells have memory of the taste preferences of an individual.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Major (Retd) Rebbapragada

      I don’t understand.
      How do you explain the transference of life memories (not just taste) from the organ donor to the recipient?

      Reply
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  15. mike

    After reading this l don’t think l’ll be leaving my organs to science:
    “In 1968, the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Death , redefined “irreversible coma”. The report gave doctors the ability to declare a person dead in just a few minutes.

    For a large majority of the medical establishment in years past, the definition of death was the patient’s loss of personhood and not necessarily defined by a heart that could not be restarted.

    The Harvard authors defined a “permanently non-functioning brain” as:

    • Unreceptively or unresponsitivity to “even the most painful stimuli”
    • No movements or spontaneous breathing
    • No reflexes
    • Flat EEG

    The results, according to the committee must be repeated 24 hours later to prove the patient was deceased. The only acceptations were hypothermia and drug intoxication because they can mimic conditions similar to death.

    The criterion, set forth by the Harvard committee, was not based on any observations from patients, experiments on humans or animals.

    In 1981 the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws was based on the Harvard committee document.

    Within 13 years, all 50 states in the US codified this 4 page article as the definition of clinical death.

    The mainstream medical community assumes that the brain controls bodily functionality.

    D. Alan Shewmon , pediatric neurologist at UCLA, rejects this idea. Shewmon believes the definition of clinical death needs revision. He says “that most integrative functions of the brain are actually not somatically integrating, and, conversely, most integrative functions of the body are not brain-mediated.”

    In an 150 page document, Shewmon explains brain-dead patients still have heart beats. In one case, a patient survived more than 2 decades after brain death.

    The Harvard committee’s motivation for lowering the standards for clinical death may have been organ harvesting through transplants.

    Joanne Lynn , geriatrician and director of the Altarum Center for Elder Life Care and Advanced Illness says: “Advocate groups just want the organs. Transplant debate has ignored the donors and focused on the recipients.”

    The reality of transplants can be summed up in a comment made by Michael Divitta , professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Divitta said that transplant donors are “pretty dead” before their organs are extracted.

    The beating-heart cadavers (BHCs) are what Divitta refers to as “brain dead” who are “warm and pink and breathing.” These people may look dead, but they are far from it.

    In the medical establishment, the BHCs are considered a subspecies designed specifically to keep the organs fresh for future owners. These patients are alive, respond to pain, yet they are considered conventionally dead.

    Corporations are now preserving the nearly dead to preserve the organs. Doctors contend that once the oxygen flow is disrupted, the organs begin to decay.

    The qualification process of declaring the patient dead, obtaining consent to extract organs from the patient by family can take hours. Then the cadaver is considered a BHC.

    However a BHC could have another heart attack before the organs are removed. These patients are only clinically dead.

    Steven Ross of Cooper University Hospital and Dan Teres of Baystate Medical Center assert that BHCs are “alive”.

    The New England Organ Bank (NEOB), headed by Jim McCabe, uses a team in the operating room; comprised of one surgeon, one resident, one technician and a coordinator from the NEOB.

    Anesthesiologists create dead people every day, says Mark Schlesinger, chairman of the anesthesiology department at Hackensack University Medical Center. “We give them drugs and they die.” Under anesthesia, a patient would be classified as clinically dead by the Harvard committee’s standards.

    The Harvard criteria focused on brain stems, the patient’s cerebral cortex and the brain’s ability to control the body. As Divitta puts it, a “pretty dead” patient is dead enough to begin the organ extraction process.

    An important issue to note is the BHCs are denied anesthesia during transplant surgery. Experts contend that anesthesia damages the organs.

    Gail A. Van Norman, professor of bioethics and anesthesiology at the University of Washington cites that some BHCs are more than not dead when the extraction process begins. She explains examples where patients have:

    • Begun to breathe during a liver extraction
    • Gasped after an apnea test, but was declared dead anyway
    • 30 year old head trauma patient began breathing during preparations for organ removal
    • Donor reaction to scalpel incisions
    • Reactive eye pupils and gag reflex during surgery for liver donation
    • Patents coughing, grimacing and movement of arms and legs during and after the extraction procedure
    • Regaining consciousness
    • Showing signs of being alert and coherent during the transplant surgery

    Gregory Liptak, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that: “Patients who are brain dead have spontaneous movements.” Liptak claims that these instances described by Van Norman must be a “release phenomena from the spinal cord” and not evidence of the donor being alive during surgery.

    Because of the possibility that BHCs may feel pain, the practice of using anesthesia is becoming popular in Europe. Yet Shewmon still maintains that BHCs cannot feel pain and that he has not heard of reports of BHCs having consciousness during or after surgery.

    Robert Truog , professor of medical ethics, anesthesia and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says, “Just because the symptoms come down . . . does not mean the patient is in pain. Pain is a subjective thing.”

    Cruel words coming from an expert in medical ethics.

    In 1971, a paper was published entitled, Brain Death: A Clinical and Pathological Study , by a Minnesota research team that found out some startling facts about the brain-dead and their ability to react.

    • Five of the 25 studied were still sexually responsive
    • Pregnancy can still go on gestating and nourishing their unborn baby

    When considering the definitions of death modern medicine adheres to, combined with the real life accounts of how the “dead” behave and react, it is clear that the mainstream medical community know less about the body than they let on.
    And sometimes, that ignorance has devastating effects.
    Susanne Posel”

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: After reading this l don’t think l’ll be leaving my organs to science:

      There are countries where they don’t need your permission. They can just declare you brain-dead and harvest your organs right away. I believe Canada or some provinces of Canada do that.

      Reply
  16. mike

    God help the canadians :(:(
    l have seen a documentary on lndia, some time ago, where they were snatching people off the street and sold the organs later. lt’s big business in some countries.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Organ donations are being regulated, but I don’t know how effective that is. If the donor and recipient are not related, the donation has to be approved by a state-level committee. Of course, that introduces red tape and delays. Things are improving but at a slow pace!

      See :

      According to existing rules, if the potential donor is not related to the person who needs the organ, the transplant needs to be approved by a state-level committee or by a hospital committee that includes government officials.

      Wall Street Journal, Sept 13, 2012 : Obstacles to Organ Donation in India

      Reply
  17. mike

    Yes, sandeep, lt’s a difficult problem.Personally, l think ‘regeneration of organs’ might be the way ahead. That Red Market book looks interesting.
    l did hear someone recently saying that if you have one of the rare blood groups – Group O donors or something like that – then your organs can go in anyone, just like Group O donors blood can. lt’s universally compatible, that is. l’m not sure if this is right but the person l heard was convinced.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Sleep-learning and the Upanishads | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  19. Sandeep Post author

    Recent research has found that cardiovascular fitness improves memory

    Older adults who have greater heart and lung health also have better memory recall and cognitive capabilities. A new study examines the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness, memory and cognition in young and older adults.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141222131541.htm

    In other words, cardiovascular fitness improves Prana which improves memory recall. This is in accordance with Sri Aurobindo’s remarks above that “Memory is Prana“:

    Disciple : What is memory ? Is it a mental faculty ?

    Sri Aurobindo : Memory is everywhere. All that one is conscious of or not, is recorded in the “Prana“, the basic stuff of consciousness. But one remembers only that which one has attentively heard and fixed in his mind. But generally these impressions are received by the “Prana” and immediately they sink into the sub­conscious, or the subliminal consciousness, or whatever you like to call it.

    Reply

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