I’ve seen this photograph very frequently on tumblr and Facebook, always with the simple caption, “Ghost Heart”. What exactly is a ghost heart?
More than 3,200 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the United States. Some won’t survive the wait. Last year, 340 died before a new heart was found.
The solution: Take a pig heart, soak it in an ingredient commonly found in shampoo and wash away the cells until you’re left with a protein scaffold that is to a heart what two-by-four framing is to a house.
Then inject that ghost heart, as it’s called, with hundreds of millions of blood or bone-marrow stem cells from a person who needs a heart transplant, place it in a bioreactor - a box with artificial lungs and tubes that pump oxygen and blood into it - and wait as the ghost heart begins to mature into a new, beating human heart.
Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, has been working on this— first using rat hearts, then pig hearts and human hearts - for years.
The process is called decellularization and it is a tissue engineering technique designed to strip out the cells from a donor organ, leaving nothing but connective tissue that used to hold the cells in place.
This scaffold of connective tissue - called a “ghost organ” for its pale and almost translucent appearance - can then be reseeded with a patient’s own cells, with the goal of regenerating an organ that can be transplanted into the patient without fear of tissue rejection.
This ghost heart is ready to be injected with a transplant recipient’s stem cells so a new heart - one that won’t be rejected - can be grown.
Heart scaffolding is composed of tough, fibrous connective tissue that the cells cover and the heart valves sit in. Pig hearts can be a bit bigger than human hearts.
A fine line between love and rage.
Unused POWERS cover @brianmbendis I dont even remember this one!
If someone asked me to describe myself in one word
I would answer with shaky.
There are seven days in a week
And eight of them consist of me standing in the eye of a hurricane
With my hand stretched out remembering how the storm
Used to whip through my hair.
I fell in love with love before I could even walk
But every time someone says they love me
I lay awake at 4 AM, searching for hidden lies
And what they could take away from me
My heart is woven from broken glass
With shards sticking out in odd places
But it still beats, and it falls for boys with brown eyes
Way more than it should.
I used to like to dance,
My feet tend to take me in twists and turns that make me stumble
Both metaphorically and literally.
I have thought about wearing a sign
Telling people to proceed with caution
Before I get too close and sink my nails into their skin,
Trying to lace their bones with mine
Because I have a terrible habit of always feeling alone.
My blood is really the ink of so many pens
That I chewed up and spit out,
My inspiration dwindling fast.
I’ve never believed in the face I see in the mirror,
Because it’s all a lie.
I can still remember counting my ribs
Like they were ladder rungs I could climb.
Every time I close my eyes,
I feel ghosts tearing me apart
And my dreams are filled with people and flashes of lightening.
I’ve never told anyone but every time I wake up,
I have to start all over
And remind myself that I do love life
And not to take the pills I still have hidden under my mattress.
I’m scared one day I’ll have a daughter
And she’ll ask why my hands tremble so much,
And why there are scars traveling up my left arm.
I don’t want to have to tell her
About the monster I tried to cut out of my elbow,
And how much I cried before the blood made me pass out.
I don’t want to have to say that sometimes the simplest things
Made me curl into a ball in the shower and sob until it ran cold.
I can’t bare to see how she looks at me
When I explain that I get scared so easily
Because all my courage was stolen with a calloused fist
Hitting my face over
o v e r.
I don’t want to have a son,
Because I’m horrified at the thought
That he might inherit my temper
And we’ll be able to compare the bruises
That line our knuckles when the voices get too loud
And we punch a hole through a wall
Because punching our heart out isn’t possible, and it’s way too messy.
I’ve always said if there’s one thing I do right with my life,
It’ll be to give my children someone who wouldn’t light a fire
To every hope they had,
Leaving their confidence weeping on the floor.
They won’t cringe at the word “daddy”
And my daughter won’t ever think for a second that she isn’t beautiful.
She won’t think that compliments
Are just another way to fool her
Until she is knocked off her feet again,
Shattered like a mosaic before it’s pieced together.
I think too much,
I love too much,
I am too dependent,
And I’ve been told over and over
That I can’t make houses out of people
I know all too well that they don’t make good ones.
But I’ve been standing in this hurricane,
And all I’ve ever wanted was to be somebody’s everything.
The hardest lesson I’ve ever learned was that it will never happen
Not when I’m not even anything to myself.