Will Receiving a Transplant Organ from a Murderer Make You Evil?

By Boonsri Dickinson | June 9, 2009 12:33 pm

heart.jpgWaiting for a healthy organ is one thing—waiting for a “moral” one is another. Despite the long wait time for many people awaiting organ transplants, some patients in the U.K. are reportedly willing to turn a healthy organ away…if it comes from a criminal.

While it may seem absurd, around a third of transplant patients have reported that they “take on” the personality traits of the organ’s original owner after a transplant, according to cognitive neuroscientist Bruce Hood at the University of Bristol. Some people claimed that their memory got sharper, or that they picked up new math skills — which could be attributed to the fact that the surgery makes people feel better mentally and psychologically.

Hood conducted a study to see if healthy people would also care about an organ donor’s moral tendencies. He asked 20 students to pretend that they were going to need a “life-saving heart transplant,” then showed them pictures of the potential donors and told them that some were murderers. Those who saw criminals were more likely to say they’d refuse the organ.

Of course, asking people who don’t really need a transplant is different than asking people who do. So how accurate can Hood’s results be? Plus there’s the fact that organ donations are done anonymously, so transplant patients don’t know who they are getting the organ from.

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Image: flickr/ Poems of a selfish record player

  • http://drvitelli.typepad.com Romeo Vitelli

    If I got a heart transplant from one of those genetically engineered sheep, would I grow wool?

  • Bob
  • Jon B

    Say it with me. Anecdote is not data. Short of a brain transplant, a recipient is not going to pick up anything from a donor, and in the case of a brain transplant, well — that would be more of a full-body donation, wouldn’t it?

  • Dustin W

    In all honesty, I often work with organ transplant recipients and more than a few have told me that they have taken on traits that their donors had.

  • http://SIVANES@1955yahoo.com.my SIVANES

    DONORS DONATAING THE ORGAN IS THE LARGEST GIFT,SO I DONT THINK IT MATTERS FROM WHOM THE ORGAN IS DONATED.WE SHOULD BE THANKFULL AND GRATEFULL AND NOT THINK OF EVIL HAPPENINGS

  • http://mrbishop.org Peter Bishop

    No, anecdote is not data. But at the same time, not proven does not mean not true. Anecdotal evidence that begins to form intriguing patterns often leads to formulating questions for rigorous study–the first step of the scientific method!

  • Pingback: Doctors Remove Implanted Heart After Original Heart Heals | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • Brian

    Yes, a transplanted organ will take over the host and control them. The Simpsons proved it in “Hell Toupée”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treehouse_of_Horror_IX

    That’s good enough for me!

  • Pingback: Want to Be a Living Organ Donor? Here Are Your Options | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainie.flores.7 Rainie Flores

    I dont think so. Thats another story to tell. For one, mostly people who receive organ donation don’t really know the donor, so it would be impossible to know of it’s traits.

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