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The importance of the physical heart (and transplants)

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#1 Christina M.

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 12:26 PM

How important or unique is the physical heart of each person? Is it considered as unique as the brain, where if someone were to (hypothetically) get a brain transplant, they might seem like a completely different person afterwards? When the Fathers talk about the "heart", how much relation does that have to the actual physical organ of the heart?

If someone were to get a complete heart transplant, would this have any spiritual or psychological implications? Would it be considered as benign as a liver transplant (for example)? Does the Church say anything in regards to the allowance of heart transplants?

Thanks :)

#2 Olga



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Posted 25 June 2012 - 01:18 PM

As someone trained in the health sciences, I can confidently say that heart transplants do not change someone's personality or spirituality. The heart is, essentially, a specialised muscular organ, beautifully suited for its purpose, just as other organs are specialised tissues performing their functions. While there have been allegations of personality changes attributed to heart transplants, this has not been supported at all by rigorous scientific research.

As for brain transplants, these are still very much in the realm of science fiction - in other words, impossible at present, and likely to remain so for quite a few centuries yet.

#3 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:20 PM

Anecdotally speaking (and at the risk of creating a Baba's tale), I have heard that at least some of those experienced with it say that the prayer of the heart is or could be disrupted by pacemakers and the like. I can't imagine that a transplant would not also cause this phenomenon.

Your mileage may vary.

#4 David Puline

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:26 PM

Hello...several months ago there was a program on TV that showed the mind/brain and heart connection in which the heart was called the small mind and it had a greater influence on making decisions, etc.. than thought before. Couple of our priests saw this program and showed to us the influence of listening to the heart in an Orthodox tradition. It did not talk about heart transplants and, if I remember right, this program was an Australian production. I know this does not address the topic above but is of interest.


#5 Michael Stickles

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 01:54 AM

There have been a few threads that touched on this area - Organ Donations, Orthodoxy and a stand on blood donation (it veered into the topic of organ transplants rather quickly), and Funeral practices (posts #4-8). There may have been others; this was just a quick search. The first dealt the most directly with the heart and heart transplants.

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