Biotechnology

Meet the Man With a 123-Year-Old Cornea

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not Bernt's eye

An 80-year-old Norwegian man named Bernt Aune "had a cornea transplanted into his right eye in 1958, from a man born in June 1885. At the time it was expected to work for only 5 years," reports a New Scientist blog, which also wonders if the antique eye might only see in black and white. The cornea is still kicking 50 years later, making it the oldest functioning organ around.

As boomers age and replacements for body parts grow more and more common, I'm looking forward to some Ship of Theseus problems. Is dad still the same guy if his hip, back, corneas, and knee joints have all been replaced? Sure. But one can only hope that one day we'll really be stumped by a continually existing fellow with 123-year-old corneas and none of his original parts.

No word on how eyeball bling effects cornea longevity.

Via Instapundit

NEXT: Legislating Freedom from the Bench

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  1. Applied to the body politic: Ben Franklin famously told the lady that the then-new nation would be “A republic, if you can keep it.” Plutarch, call your office.

  2. That picture looks like something out of a Tool CD insert. From “Opiate” IIRC.

  3. “I swear, doc. I sneezed real hard and they just ended up this way.”

  4. Sage,

    I was thinking the same thing.

    One of their best by the way.

  5. “Meet the Man With a 123-Year-Old Cornea”

    Will you people lay off John McCain?!”

  6. Actually, the picture makes me think me think of Sadako.

  7. My father spent the past few months screaming at the radio, tv and newspapers that this was not Yankee Stadiums final year. To him, that year was 1973 when they went ahead with the renovations.

  8. That picture looks like something out of a Tool CD insert. From “Opiate” IIRC.

    My thought as well.

    I personally don’t think there is much of a Ship of Theseus problem inherent in this type of transplant until nerve and brain tissue starts to be traded.

  9. Calvin: Dad, how come old photographs are always black and white? Didn’t they have color film back then?
    Dad: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs are in color. It’s just the world was black and white then.
    Calvin: Really?
    Dad: Yep. The world didn’t turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while,
    too.
    Calvin: That’s really weird.
    Dad: Well, truth is stranger than fiction.
    Calvin: But then why are old paintings in color?! If the world was black and white, wouldn’t artists have painted
    it that way?
    Dad: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.
    Calvin: But… but how could they have painted in color anyway? Wouldn’t their paints have been shades of
    gray back then?
    Dad: Of course, but they turned colors like everything else did in the ’30s.
    Calvin: So why didn’t old black and white photos turn color too?
    Dad: Because they were color pictures of black and white, remember?
    Calvin (to Hobbes): The world is a complicated place, Hobbes.
    Hobbes: Whenever it seems that way, I take a nap in a tree and wait for dinner.

  10. Awesome! I’m off to look for a suitable napping tree. Please ring dinner bell loudly.

  11. I’m looking forward to some Ship of Theseus problems.

    Thank you! I have been trying to remember that phrase for weeks! First learned of it when reading about the late Boyd Coddington and how he got into legal trouble with restored and modified hotrods that should have been sold as “new”.

    Still need to do some research on that, I think it varies a lot State to State and not that much of a federal issue when it comes to cars with old VIN tags.

  12. I love Calvin’s dad. If all patent lawyers were like that, why I’d be one, too.

    Episiarch,

    Did you mean Neil Sedaka?

  13. AEnima is the Tool album you’re thinking of, not Opiate.

    Learn to swim. Learn to swim. Learn to swim. Learn to swim. Learn to swim.

  14. The Ship of Theseus problem has a more current application. If you replace each clause of the Constitution with an interpretation of that clause that nullifies it, do you still have the same Constitution?

  15. I still have my great-grandfather’s axe. Over the years we’ve replaced the handle five times and the head twice, but it’s still my great-grandfather’s axe.

  16. AEnima is the Tool album you’re thinking of, not Opiate.

    Quite so.

  17. rap is correct, I axed him myself.

  18. If you replace each clause of the Constitution with an interpretation of that clause that nullifies it, do you still have the same Constitution?

    Yes.

    A governing document derives its legitimacy first and foremost for continuity of application.

    (The consent of the governed thingee is also nice, but not strictly necessary.)

  19. I don’t think one can speak in generalities about a written constitution. There is exactly one that has been around for centuries. A constitution based almost exclusively on the idea that it is the foundation for a limited set of government powers becomes less and less meaningful as those limits are whittled away. An unfettered government is only nominally restricted by any constitution, whether written or not. We’re not up to unfettered just yet, but we’re heading there.

  20. Elemenope’s “Yes,” now means “No.”

  21. And yet we still can’t buy organs. Sure, the organ harvesters can make money on them. The hospitals can make money. The transplant team can make money.

    But the guy losing an organ? Do it for free bitch.

  22. I think that the Ship of Theseus problem is complicated when you’re talking about a living person or organism, because you have to decide if the “being” is the sum of the parts, or the continuity of experience.

    If I die, I still have the same physical parts I have now, but I am not “Fluffy”. I am “Fluffy’s corpse”. But if my “parts” are replaced one at a time slowly enough that I never die and continue to have a continuous stream of experience, even when all the original parts are gone I am still “me”. Don’t most of our tissue cells “roll over” at least once in our lifetimes as it is?

  23. Don’t most of our tissue cells “roll over” at least once in our lifetimes as it is?

    Yes. This is the primary reason my Chesterton argued we have to consider a person by continuity of experience; else, there can be no morality (as the actions of the past would not attach to the being of the present).

  24. “my” should be “why” in above.

  25. Remember Time Cop? The same matter can’t occupy the same space, so if Jean Claude Van Damme goes back in time and comes into contact with his former self, he explodes. Except that human skin is constantly shedding and replacing itself, so if he goes back in time it is not actually the same matter that is coming in contact.

    Continuity error!

  26. Wow, that SciFi tangent took me by surprise, and not by being a few comments early either.

  27. I still use the same computer I bought in 1993. Of course it’s had 3 or 4 motherboards and CPUs, 4 power supplies, 3 video cards, at least a half dozen hard drives and about as many versions of Windows. The ONLY thing original is the floppy drive, which I haven’t used in years.

    But, heh, it’s still the same computer.

  28. LMNOP,

    I thought you were just expressing affection for Chesterton.

  29. LMNOP,

    I thought you were just expressing affection for Chesterton.

    R.C.’s law.

  30. I must share. I got a new hard drive for my 2003-era Dell. Skipping a couple of steps, I slaved my old hard drive to the new one, then performed a clean install of XP on the new drive. After that, I installed my various applications, copied my data and key settings (Firefox and Thunderbird were particularly cooperative), and voil?! I have a much faster computer.

  31. Guys, this is the picture I was thinking of. And it is from Opiate.

    Don’t mess with me. I know my Tool. And the band, too.

  32. Actually, I know that there’s a similar one in the Aenima album too, but it’s not the one I was thinking of, OK?

  33. So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago — a mind which has long ago been replaced.

    To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of the brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

    Richard Feynman

  34. …if Jean Claude Van Damme goes back in time and comes into contact with his former self, he explodes…

    So why has no one tried this already?

  35. BP,

    I did. You don’t explode, you just get a rash.

  36. When my father died at age 57, they implanted his heart and lungs into a 12-year-old boy. That was almost 10 years ago. If the kid manages to live even to the same age as my Dad, his heart and lungs will have made it to 102.

  37. db,

    Not to be insensitive, but my curiosity is winning out…

    Was your father inordinately small, or was it a very large 12-year-old? How does this sort of think work when there is a large size disparity?

  38. But will this help me figure out which Capt. Kirk is the real Capt. Kirk the next time a transporter accident splits him in two?

  39. If someone’s brain hemispheres are separated and one-half were to be transplanted to another body, would two individuals be created?

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  41. Inane Speculator, your answer follows your post.

  42. Yeah, what in the crap was that?

  43. Did I just come to the pot philosophy thread?

  44. But will this help me figure out which Capt. Kirk is the real Capt. Kirk the next time a transporter accident splits him in two?

    Would the real Captain Kirk please stand up?

    We’re gonna have a problem here.

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