A  A  A   Print
Character Counts When It Comes to Organ, Blood Donations

Character Counts When It Comes to Organ, Blood Donations

WEDNESDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Some people say they would refuse an organ or blood donation that came from a murderer or thief, a new study shows.

Many people believe behaviors and personality traits are tied to something deep within a person. As a result, patients are often worried they will become more like their donors following a transplant or transfusion, the researchers explained. For this reason, these patients prefer to receive organs or blood from people who are a lot like them, the University of Michigan study found.

"This suggests an interesting intuitive belief -- that behaviors and personalities are inherent, unchanging aspects of who they are," study co-author Susan Gelman, a professor of psychology, said in a University of Michigan news release.

Study author Meredith Meyer, a research fellow in psychology, added: "People dislike the prospect of any change in their essence -- positive or negative -- and so any salient difference between the donor and recipient leads to increased resistance to the transplant [despite the fact] there is no scientific model to account for why transplants might lead to transference of features."

For the study, the researchers showed the study participants a list of possible human donors. They were asked to judge whether they wanted a donor who was the same gender and sexual orientation and came from a similar background. The participants also considered possible donors' ages and positive or negative characteristics, such as high IQ, kind person, philanthropist, thief, gambler or murderer.

The participants were also asked how they felt about being a donor, and if they believed a transplant would cause a recipient to adopt the personality and behaviors of their donor.

The study, published in the May/June issue of Cognitive Science, revealed that the participants cared more about having a donor with a personality and behaviors similar to their own than a donor's positive or negative qualities. Organs or blood from a pig or chimpanzee were particularly unpleasant for people to consider, the findings indicated.

Feelings about blood transfusions were just as strong as views on heart transplants, the study authors pointed out.

"Since blood transfusions are so common and relatively straightforward, we had expected people might think that they have very little effect," Meyer noted.

The study participants included people from the United States as well as people from India, where some subcultures hold deep-seated beliefs about contamination from transplants. Those from India had stronger ideas on how transplants would affect their behavior than Americans did, the results showed.

"From the medical point of view, this is beginning to look like a promising way of addressing donor shortages," study co-author Sarah-Jane Leslie, an assistant professor of philosophy at Princeton University, said in the news release. "But these results indicate that potential recipients could struggle with the belief that accepting such a donation will profoundly change who they are."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about organ donation.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, June 18, 2013

 

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.