Two questions about transplants: testicles and blood transfusions

#1: My husband swears up and down that there is such a thing as a testicular transplant, and if a man receives one and has a kid, the child will be the biological offspring of the donor. True or false?

#2: I watched a documentary tonight about people who have had transplants and afterwards had memories and preferences for things they never had before. Later they found out that they were remembering stuff that happened to their donors, and had acquired some of their tastes (a love of kickboxing, for example, or suddenly liking a certain kind of food they never did before).

Surely there is something to this cellular memory thing.

So do people who receive big blood transfusions suddenly have new memories/preferences? Or does it not happen because when someone receives several units of blood, they’re all from different people and plus they never find out who the donor was?

Well, in theory you could transplant a testicle into someone else, but why? I mean, sperm donation is so much easier, doesn’t involve surgery, does not require anti-rejection medication…

But yes, IF you did a testicle transplant that subsequently led to a pregnancy and childbirth, the kid would be the genetic offspring of the donor. But whatever male human being raised the kid would be the father, if you see what I mean.

A blood transfusion IS an organ transplant - the fact that the organ in question is liquid rather than having a defined shape is irrelevant.

I don’t really believe that whole “cellular memory” thing - I think it’s psychological, not physical. I guess it’s just inconceivable that someone who has been critically ill and now feels better might try something new. And maybe, hearing that a donor used to do X they might try X and find they like it… but you just don’t hear about those who try X and find out they DON’T like it, just doesn’t make for as much feel-good video.

Now, some things CAN be transferred - allergies, for instance, can travel with a donor’s bone marrow. But they won’t with a donor liver. Or Hepatitis can be transplanted along with an organ. But not memories. Unless you’re talking about brain transplants but so far as I know we aren’t able to do those.

Well, I don’t^M^M^M didn’t think there’s such a thing as a “testicular transplant” patient, but apparently it’s been done to this one guy. OTOH, he was his own donor, so the point is kinda moot.

That food stuff is definately crap though. At a stretch, I can see someone perhaps want a different food if the new organ reacted differently to stuff certain food produces, making them want, say, oranges.
(I mean, some people chew ice due to lack of iron. If the new organ caused a lack of iron in the new patient as in the old, then the new one might chew ice. I doubt it, but maybe.)

As for kickboxing, if someone gets a heart, they’ll likely go from years of not being able to do anything to feeling “wow!” pretty quick, and want to do something physical. If it happened to be something the donor liked to do (fairly good chance there), then those that wear tinfoil hats might see something.

[nitpick] Isn’t blood medically considered a tissue rather than an organ? [/nitpick]

That’s what I thought.

I’m sitting here with my 2002 edition of the ICD-9-CM manual that lists the diagnosis codes for every common medical procedure. I work in a medical billing office, so I have to code the reports as they go through. Under Transplant is listed

bone, bone marrow, corneal graft, heart, intestines, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, hair, heart valve, peripheral stem cells

There are also two catch-all codes that say

organ, specified NEC
tissue, specified NEC

where NEC is Not Elsewhere Coded. It means that there’s no code for that specific example: like an ear transplant, should such a thing be done, or a hand transplant.

The ICD9 manual is more specific. That manual lists the actual procedure codes for the surgical operations that get done in the hospital – and they’re frighteningly specific.

Under Testis, repair, page 215 of the 2003 edition, code 54680 says

So there you go. There are also codes listed for insertion of testicular prosthesis (54660) and unlisted laparoscopy procedure, testis (54699, likely another catch-all code for something unexpected and as yet uncoded).


Obviously if you transplanted testicles into somebody, the sperm produced would carry the genes of the donor, not the recipient, and therefore any children conceived by the recipient would not be genetically related to the recipient, even though he actually fathered them.

As far as transplants carrying memories and whatnot … I’ve read a few anecdotes about characteristics coming along with a transplant, like a woman who gets a liver transplant and develops a massive craving for beer and onion rings and later finds out that the donor was known for his love of beer and onion rings. But that’s all they are, anecdotes, and there aren’t even very many of those – considering the vast number of transplants that go on every year in the United States alone, you’d think that if there were anything to the whole “cellular memory” thing, it would be happening more often. It’s a very intriguing thing to think about, but really, it doesn’t seem too likely.

The problem with transplanting testicles is that it would be quite difficult to do it without introducing small quantities of sperm into the operation site; the body’s immune system then treats these as foreign and complications can arise (I believe it is this, rather than the physical difficulty of reconnecting tubes, that makes vasectomy reversal unreliable).