In what has to be the weirdest and most bullshit-ridden thing I’ve seen in a long time, the Daily Mail last week ran with the headline: ‘Transplant has turned me into a housewife': Man now addicted to cleaning after receiving woman’s cornea
I’ll let that sink in.
So, the story goes – workshy slob Will Palmer hated housework. Then, due to a condition called Fuchs’ Dystrophy – where cells lining the inner surface of the cornea to begin to die – his eyesight rapidly decreased to a point where he needed a cornea operation. Once he got his shiny new sight, he found he suddenly loves to clean. Which, apparently, can only be due to the new cornea and it’s previous owner. Because that’s how transplants work, obviously.
On top of scientifically-nonsensical, there’s an obscenely sexist angle to the story, which is expressed in the quote:
In fact, so profound is Mr Palmer’s new-found devotion to housework that he believes his transplanted cornea must have been donated by a woman.
‘It started as a joke that I must have been given the cornea of a woman but I really do think it’s true,’ Will said, ‘There’s a reason why men don’t clean like this and I think it’s because we just don’t see the dirt, but I see it everywhere I go.’
So housework is a woman’s job then? This is massively offensive to women (marginalising their role and enforcing age-old stereotypes) and to men (suggesting all men are workshy, lazy slobs). Which to my mind, therefore offends all of the potential readership of the story, barring the androgynous community. Which, and correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t the usual demographic for the Daily Mail. This is 2009 – it’s staggering that this level of sexist bullshit still goes on.
This whole thing reads like a standard nonsense donor-organ-characteristics stories that crop up from time to time. Like “My new kidney makes me like country music”, “my liver transplant turned me gay”, and there was even a shockingly poor film with Jessica Alba had a cornea transplant and began seeing visions of murder witnessed by the cornea’s previous owner. In fact, research from Professor Bruce Hood, author of Supersense and regular Skeptics in the Pub speaker, suggests that one in three transplant patients believe they have taken on something of the donor’s personality.
Now, just to be clear to anyone who hadn’t realised – transplants do not change the personality of the new owner. It’s superstitious nonsense, and it’s ridiculous that the Mail would even consider running a story so shoddy and unscientific. No, wait, sorry – this is the Mail we’re talking about: this is exactly the kind of scientifically-ignorant, superstitious and ridiculous story we expect of them. Maybe one of their writers could get a cornea transplant from someone science-literate…