Can elements of a person’s character – or perhaps even their soul – be transplanted along with a heart?
This is what Claire Sylvia believes to be the case and she is one to know. In 1988 she received a heart/lung transplant following her diagnosis of primary pulmonary hypertension. The donor was an 18 year old boy who had been killed in a motorcycle accident.
Claire claims that since the transplant, she seems to be acquiring the characteristics and cravings of the donor. Almost as if his personality is merging with her own.
She says that she felt different right from the beginning. The new heart ‘beat differently’ to her old one and she felt that it was beating deeper in her chest. Her doctor said that this could result from the new heart being positioned differently in her chest.
She also noticed while still in the hospital that she had a craving for beer, which previously she had disliked. It was this craving which first got her wondering about the donor.
A few months later she discovered that she had a fondness for other things which she had previously disliked: Snickers bars, green peppers and KFC chicken nuggets. But these were not the only changes.
According to Claire, her whole outlook on life changed and became more ‘masculine’. People noticed that she had become more assertive, aggressive and confident than previously. She claims that she felt tougher and fitter and even her walk became more manly. even her daughter commented on the change in her walk.
One night she had a dream of a young man. She recalled that his name was Tim Leighton and could accurately describe him: tall, thin, sandy-coloured hair. Claire describes the dream as one of the most vivid and unforgettable in her life. She awoke with a certainty that Tim L. was the donor.
Claire tried finding out more about her donor, but was turned down due to privacy laws. However the transplant co-ordinator did confirm that the young man’s name was Tim and his surname began with ‘L’.
Following a long search, Claire finally found the young man’s family. His name was Tim Lamirande. In conversation it emerged that Tim indeed loved beer, green peppers and was wild about KFC chicken nuggets. But perhaps the most unnerving part was when Claire saw a photo of Tim and recognised him straight away.
Her story is not unique and is repeated by many other recipients of not only heart transplants. In 2006, Chinese scientists began an extensive monitoring plan for people who received liver transplants. They are specifically looking for personality changes which take place. They were prompted into this study by reports from U.S. scientists into this phenomena.
Many scientists agree that personality changes in transplant recipients could indeed take place, but are largely due to changes in lifestyle, the effects of the anti-rejection medication or the effects of the surgery itself.
Others disagree, saying that in transplant there is a transfer of DNA from the donor to the recipient. This genetic material could theoretically affect other organs, such as the brain.
Earlier this week it was reported that a recipient of a heart commited suicide … in a similar way to the donor. That’s not all – he was married to the donor’s widow!
People’s Daily: China to track “personality changes” in liver transplant cases
The Telegraph: Heart transplant man dies like suicide donor
The Book of Thoth: Transplant Memory?