Tuesday, 15 February 2011

I've loved you so long.....innovation of the "Ghost heart" and beautiful science


 I have to share this with you, because I believe that when there is innovation that blows your mind and simply  takes your breath away it should be supported and shared across as widely as possible.

Last night in a TV documentary a doctor explained the holy grail in surgery; to mend a broken heart.  Great advances have been made in heart surgery and transplant, to save/ give life to someone with a failing heart.  When someone is given a heart transplant or part-prosthesis, possibly after a long wait for a donor organ, they rightly feel blessed and saved.  But to medics, it is essentially plumbing, in the sense that the failing organ has been replaced with a pump that works.  The reality, is still that the patient must take anti-rejection meds every day and often suffers arrythmias (may require further surgery to fix) or clots (which are potentially debilitating and life threatening without blood thinning drugs).  Currently, the standard life of a transplant/ prosthesis is either side of 10 years, so the heart beats louder as a reminder of time.  The stresses will take its toll and they will inevitably suffer the sypmtoms of declining heart function.  Unlike an indigenous heart, the transplant/ prosthesis does not have the benefit of being stabilised, protected and maintained by hormones in the human body, that necessarily interact with it via haemodynamics - the aim is then to produce a clone of the patient's own heart for transplant.

In Madrid they are currently working on some truelly beautiful science.  Where by they take a human heart and strip it of all it's cells (cardiac cells) what is left is a ghostly white vessel structure.  The aim is to inject stem cells (an as yet undefined progenitor with the potential to become any other cell in the human body given the precise stimuli and environment) from the patient into the "ghost" framework.  Allow the conditions for the stem cell to develop and replicate and essentially build the heart into a whole.  They have succesfully rebuilt a clone rat heart and porcine heart (pig heart is the most similar in geometry to the human heart), and importantly........the organs began to contract and pump.  I could not find images to illustrate this article, but it suspends belief, and the "Ghost heart" is a beautiful art that sends tingles down your spine because of its immense power and meaning.

The title: I've loved you so long - I think may be the most beautiful sequence of words and underlies why some endeavours are enduring.  I wish that I had assembled those words, in that order and had reason to have conjured it up.

9 comments:

  1. It's fantastic what science and medicine can do with good intentions. Hope this endeavour is successful for people and soon.

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  2. That's an incredible story! I haven't heard about that before, but it sounds like it would work, and what a fantastic idea - a replacement heart that the person's body wouldn't reject. Wow - it really gives you something to think about, doesn't it? Thank you so writing about this and sharing it.

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  3. Thank you for such a beautiful article! As the song says, "it's not the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away."

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  4. Such an amazing discovery! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  5. It is amazing what science can do and how it can inspire us as artists! great article.

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  6. What a beautiful story. Glad I stopped by and found it! :]

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  7. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post.

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  8. That's a fascinating article! Thanks for posting it, and by the way, the colors and patterns in your pillows are incredible. The one in your customer corner from kinkindie is so beautiful.

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