Day 13 — spirit

The mysterious mistrals of the Hithean wilds don’t appear aggressive upon first impressions, and they do in fact seem quite amicable — until they try to rip your heart out.  Mistrals use the organs of humans to power their magic and stay alive, and without a steady supply of said organs, they will melt or fall apart, so they hunt almost constantly.

It has been said by some that all cold winds are caused by mistrals flying about unseen, but the arrival of a billowing wind when the air was previously still almost always means there’s a mistral afoot.

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.


(Source)

10

Human Organs Created from Flora

English artist Camila Carlow created these lovely renderings of human organs by foraging for wild plants, weeds, and the occasional animal part and then sculpting and arranging these various bits of flora. Her series, entitled “Eye ‘Heart’ Spleen,” represents images of organs such as a heart, lungs, stomach, uterus, liver, and testicles, demonstrating the reflection of internal biological structures with external natural structures. From Carlow’s site,

“This work invites the viewer to regard our vital structures as beautiful living organisms, and to contemplate the miraculous work taking place inside our bodies, even in this very moment.”

You can order prints and keep up with this particular project’s developments via its Facebook page.

Finding human organs in jars is not an altogether uncommon occurrence when poking around the recesses of America’s abandoned asylums and hospitals.  Bumping into a cabinet upon which two such jars, the formalin long since dried out, rests at 4 in the morning is slightly unnerving.  This happened to me at Tuscaloosa’s Bryce State Hospital some time back, as I was searching around for those middle-of-the-night photographs to kill time until civil twilight broke.  After first light, I got so caught up in shooting a brand-new (to me) Kirkbride building that I completely forgot about the jars of organs - until it was almost time to go, at which point, I returned to grab a few captures.  Here’s one of them.

Print available here.

Detroiters organize after judge rules there is no human right to water
October 3, 2014

The people of Detroit are vowing resistance after a federal bankruptcy judge on Monday ruled that the city can continue shutting off water to its poorest residents if their bills cannot be paid.

Judge Steven W. Rhodes at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigandeclared that citizens have no implicit right to water, that he lacked the authority to issue a restraining order to stop the shutoffs and that doing so would be a financial hit to the city already in the throes of bankruptcy. “There is no such right or law,” Rhodes said.

Advocacy groups had filed for a temporary restraining order against the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to stem the shutoffs until a plan is put into place to ensure that Detroiters can afford access to clean water.

The plaintiffs—which include the National Action Network, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Moratorium Now and the Peoples Water Board—argued that the city implemented shutoffs unfairly, without adequate notice and with little financial assistance for poor people who lack the means to pay.

The Detroit Water Brigade, which has spearheaded relief efforts for households where the water has been shut off, issued a statement following the ruling saying they “strongly condemn” the decision.

"Each day, hundreds of our neighbors and friends are losing access to life’s most essential ingredient for the simple fact that they are unable to pay," the statement reads.

"This affront to dignity and human rights will not continue on our watch: today we pledge our voices and our bodies to protect each other when the legal system will not," it continues.  The volunteer group has vowed to undertake a "sustained and escalating campaign of nonviolent direct action" and risk arrest in order to "protect and uphold the human right to water in Detroit."

Plaintiff Attorney Alice Jennings said Monday that the group will look to appeal the decision. “We have demonstrated, and the judge agreed, that a family without water faces risk of irreparable harm,” Jennings said.  “We believe there is a right to water and there is a right to affordable water.”

During the two days of hearings last week, Detroit residents and experts took the stand to testify about the hardships that stemmed from a lack of access to clean water.

Speaking before the courtroom, one witness reportedly “became teary” after describing how she had to buy bottles of water from the dollar store to bathe herself. “It doesn’t make me feel good,” she said, according to an account by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Social worker and city resident Maureen Taylor, who also chairs the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, described her visits to hundreds of homes deprived of running water. “It’s beyond sad,” Taylor said, adding that there are often empty bottles of water all over the place. “People are scared. It’s a horrible thing to see.”

During her testimony, DWSD head Sue McCormick said that she has no clue how many of the over 19,000 homes where water was shut off this year were occupied or home to kids or disabled residents. Further, McCormick admitted that, despite being DWSD policy, utilities representatives were not knocking on doors to see if a bill was in dispute before shutting off the water supply.

"Thousands of people in Detroit remain without water service, including the elderly, the disabled, and families with small children," said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director, in a statement following a ruling. “Without a clear plan for helping people afford their bills or appeal incorrect bills, the water department shouldn’t be in the business of turning off anyone else’s water.”

During his ruling, Rhodes touted a new city plan to create an independent regional body, the Great Lakes Water Authority, that will lease the city’s water pipelines to suburban towns in order to recoup funds for DWSD. However, opponents have criticized the plan saying it’s a clear step towards water privatization.

On September 19, the Detroit City Council voted 7-2 in favor of the plan and the surrounding municipalities are currently in the approval process.

Source

8

Helen Pynor: Liquid Ground

Helen Pynor is an Australian artist whose practice incorporates sculpture and more recently photography. Drawing on her dual backgrounds in Biology and Visual Arts, Pynor’s works explore the interiority of the body and other living organisms. In her recent photographic series, Liquid Ground, Pynor has created a suite of Type-C prints that are face mounted to glass, creating a cool, watery atmosphere. Her images of visceral bodily organs floating through gossamer garments underwater are unerringly beautiful and melancholic, in narratives past and present.

Pynor was the winner of the RBS Emerging Artist Award 2009 and also the joint winner of the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award 2008. Liquid Ground was on show during November/December 2010, at Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney.

C-Print, diasec on glass. All images courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery

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