Questions for Doris Taylor

Learn more about my research In June 2008, Doris Taylor answered visitors questions about organ transplants.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

What inspired you to pursue a career in science - particularly medical science?

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 1:03pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

I grew up in Mississippi in the sixties, which always means you want to change the world - but more than that I lost my dad to cancer when I was six which was the most painful experience of my life to that date. I wanted to keep anyone else from ever feeling that so I thought medicine was what I wanted to do. As I grew up, I realized I might be too close to be objective emotionally in a medical setting. So although I am great at diagnosing things, I ended up moving toward science where I could make a difference I thought. And I would like to think we have. I hope that answers your question.

posted on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 10:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

When you say "detergent" is pumped through the blood vessels of the heart to wash away the cells, is that like water that just wipes it away or an actual detergent like bleach?

posted on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 10:38am
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

Thanks for the question
Let me explain
Detergent is really actually a term that refers to something that changes the surface tension of a solution or something like that - and i am going to have to go back online and find the latest definition (here we go from ask.com: detergent

detergent - Substance which lowers the surface tension of a solution, improving its cleaning properties.

but yes, we mean detergent like a soap - not bleach though.
Bleach doesnt really qualify as a detergent. It is a caustic agent but not a detergent. So we infuse a detergent into the organ and it lyses (bursts) the cells and washes away the debris.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:17pm
Will's picture
Will says:

How long does a transplant surgery typically take?

posted on Fri, 07/04/2008 - 3:43pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

Organ transplantation surgery isnt really my forte, but I can tell you that the time depends on the complexity of the surgery.
Anywhere from 2-8 hours is my best guess. something like 2 for the kidney and 8 or longer for multiple organs in the abdomen or chest.
if all goes well a heart transplant atakes 4 hours or so.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:19pm
paul's picture
paul says:

Can eyeballs be transplanted?

posted on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 2:53pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

corneas - the cell layers on the surface of the eye are transplanted all the time.

whole eyeballs - not so much.
in fact, whole eyes are not on a transplant list to my knowledge. reconnecting the optic nerve may just be too difficult at present. but i will find out and get back to you.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:22pm
heartfelt friend's picture
heartfelt friend says:

Can the recipient of an organ transplant feel the organ, since it is from another person?

posted on Sun, 07/06/2008 - 11:06am
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

i dont exactly know what you mean by "feel the organ."
Clearly the person who received it knows it is there and i suspect feels differently to some degree as a result.

And there are more and more anecdotes of changes in personality after heart transplants...including reports of people who want to eat the favorite food of hte person whose heart they received. But i dont think the answer to this is well known or understood. I am going to ask some of my colleagues from the UMN Center for Spiritualitya nd Healing to comment on this...
stay tuned.
what is your opinion, do you think they can?

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:25pm
Nealth NUT's picture
Nealth NUT says:

What causes organ rejection?

posted on Tue, 07/08/2008 - 11:37am
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

We all have protiens on the surface of our cells that tell our body our cells are ours. Those proteins belong to groups called major and mionor histocompatibility complexes. Organ rejection occurs when your body sees MHC proteins on the surface of the cells of the organ and doesnt recognize them as self. In other words they are perceived as ":foreign."
When that happens the body then begins to generate antibodies and chemical reactions in the body designed to fight the organ and to kill the cells with foreign proteins. The only ways we have to fight this right now involve fighting lots of reactions in the body and catching those in the crossfire. so we give powerful anti-rejection drugs that keep the body from killing foreign cells but they also keep the body from fighting infections as well and also cause some side effects like high blood pressure and possibly even diabetes.
it is the lesser of two evils really - rejection or the side effects of anti-rejection drugs.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:30pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

that would be proteins not protiens
so sorry
i know better but didnt spell check any of my answers.
i can do science. typing is another matter entirely.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How far along do you have to be in your research before you start testing with human hearts?

posted on Fri, 07/11/2008 - 10:54pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

We have to know that our research is SAFE and EFFECTIVE before we can move it to studies in humans.
That means based on criteria we and the Food and Drug Administration agree on we have to show in what we call preclinical studies that our organs can be grown in the lab, function well and are safe (no side effects or infections or failures) and are effective (at least as good as what currently exists or have a reasonable effect if nothing currently exists) before we can even apply for studies in humans. Those preclinical studies usually occur in animals and move progressively toward humans with disease.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:33pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

Thank you for asking such great questions!!!
These push my limits and make me think. You all are not only smart and savvy but up to speed on science. Impressive.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:35pm
Peeblaster's picture
Peeblaster says:

How do you keep the patient alive while doing the transplant?

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 4:41pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

That's a great question. Heart transplants are performed using a cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) bypass machine. It performs the function of the patient's heart and lungs by keeping the blood circulating and oxygenated while the old heart is removed and the new one is connected.

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 4:23pm
Person's picture
Person says:

I know that some animals have very similar organs (such as pigs and humans). Is it possible to geneticly engineer a pig heart specifically for the use in a human?

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 5:04pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

I don't like to say that something is impossible. There are certainly very capable scientist working on this. This is something that is very difficult to develop.

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 5:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Faced with the new research on fabrication if new organs with stem cells and through other means, what ethical issues to you forsee in the shorterm as the research developes.

posted on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 5:11pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

When I speak to my colleagues in the field, I frequently say that we need to get it right, or the field will be doomed. It is very important that we bring this science to a point where this can be done safely.

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 3:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

is there ever a time that the rejection drugs can be stopped or do they have to be taken for the rest of your life?

posted on Sat, 07/19/2008 - 3:34pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

This is a very important concern for our research. Normally, when a patient receives an organ transplant, they have to take immunosuppressive medication for the rest of their lives to keep their immune system from rejecting the implanted organ.
Our hope is that the research we are doing will some day be able to offer an alternative to lifelong anti-rejection medication. Many cells are constantly secreting and maintaining matrix, or environment around them. By recellularizing a cadaveric organ with a recipient's own cells, it possible to envision that these cells will eventually replace the matrix from the cadaveric organs with their own, leaving nothing foreign for the immune cells to recognize.
This process is still in its infancy and much more research has yet to be done before we can safely bring this technique to be used in humans.

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 4:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Your research is very interesting. Where will you get hearts to strip cells from? If there is a donor heart available, would one not just find a histocompatibility match from the transplant list and use it immediately? If there's no match your process could be used, but the lists are so long it seems unlikely.

posted on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 9:06pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

You bring up a very good point. Unfortunately there is a huge organ shortage in this country. Many people needing a transplant wait a very long time to receive a heart, and for far too many, the time runs out before they ever get one.

One of the criteria for heart transplant, is that the organ must be harvested and implanted within a matter of hours. That really limits the donor heart pool significantly.

If the Decell/Recell technology is able to move forward, it would greatly increase the number of donor hearts that are eligible for transplant.

Another potential benefit that could arise from this technology is that it might allow for the heart cells to come from the recipient, making it far less immunogenic.

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 3:12pm
Sam Carter's picture
Sam Carter says:

Is the day coming in which anyone who needs a new could theoretically have one built for them?

posted on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 12:53pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

Sam,
It is a long way away still. We want to make sure we get it right. But yes, it is certainly my hope that one day we'll be able to get there. It would be nice, wouldn't it?

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 3:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

is it realy true that a liver can grow from a little chunk

posted on Sat, 07/26/2008 - 1:05pm
Doris Taylor's picture
Doris Taylor says:

Yes, it is true, liver does have an amazing regenerative capacity. Excellent question.

posted on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 5:18pm
From the Museum Floor's picture

How heavy is a human heart?

posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:09am
From the Museum Floor's picture

How soon would you need to get a heart from a donor in order for it to be usable in your procedure?

posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:10am
From the Museum Floor's picture

Why do your hearts end up white? Would it eventually turn red again?

posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:11am
noah's picture
noah says:

How did you come up with the idea to use the pig's heart, and how did you get all of the veins out?

posted on Sun, 08/10/2008 - 3:48pm