It has long been rumored that organ transplants bring with them certain personality traits of their original owners, but two recent cases seem to add credence to the theory. First is the case of Sonny Graham, who after receiving the heart of suicide victim Terry Cottle, went on to not only marry Cottle’s widow, but to also eventually commit suicide in the exact same fashion as Cottle had, 12 years earlier. Even more bizarre is the case of Claire Sylvia, a middle aged mother who received a donated heart from an 18-year-old boy who died in a motorcycle accident. In her new book, Change of Heart, Sylvia notes some of the unexpected side effects of her transplant operation:
Now that I could eat like a normal person, I found, bizarrely, I’d developed a sudden fondness for certain foods I hadn’t liked before: Snickers bars, green peppers, Kentucky Fried Chicken takeaway. As time went on, a strange question crept into my mind. Although I hadn’t thought much about my donor, I was acutely aware that I was living with a man’s heart – and I wondered whether it was conceivable that this male heart might affect me sexually.
Until the transplant, I had spent most of my adult life either in a relationship with a man or hoping to be in one. But after the operation, while I still felt attracted to men, I didn’t feel that same need to have a boyfriend. I was freer and more independent than before – as if I had taken on a more masculine outlook. My personality was changing, too, and becoming more masculine. I was more aggressive and assertive than I used to be, and more confident as well.
I felt tougher, fitter and I stopped getting colds. Even my walk became more manly. “Why are you walking like that?” my teenage daughter Amara asked. “You’re lumbering – like a musclebound football player.” This new masculine energy wasn’t limited to my walk. I felt a new power that I associated with strength and vibrancy.
Both cases, of course, are a long way from proving anything about the theory of cellular memory, but it’s certainly food for thought, eh?