Heart Transplants, Personality Transplants?

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Heart Transplants, Personality Transplants?

Thomas R. Verny M.D.

Quote:About 10 years ago, I read a paper by Paul Pearsall and fellow researchers in which they discussed 10 cases of heart or heart-lung transplants. Pearsall had interviewed transplant recipients, their families, and the donor’s family, while Schwartz and Russek examined parallels between the donor and recipient. According to the authors, the recipients experienced profound changes in their lifestyles: “changes in food, music, art, sexual, recreational, and career preferences, as well as specific instances of perceptions of names and sensory experiences related to the donors.”

As we read these reports, we should keep in mind that the prevailing belief that memories are stored in the brain and nowhere else discourages transplant recipients from readily accepting changes in their personality that parallel those of the organ donor or to speak of these with their families, friends or physicians. Fear of being labeled as weird or crazy no doubt dampens many a heart recipient’s enthusiasm to share their experiences with others.

Heart transplant surgery is not simply a question of replacing a diseased organ with a healthy one. It is more than that as reports in the literature of heart transplants recipients confirm experiencing changes in their own personality which dovetail with those of their donor. Such personality changes, at least in some people, would be expected in light of our finding that information or memory is stored in body cells and tissues. Cardiac cells would be no exception to that, and if anything, more likely to carry personal data.


Verny has some interesting ideas about embodied mind but I think he should look further, specifically the possibility that the spirit of the deceased donor is influencing the recipient in some way.

"We stayed with the [recipient family] that night. In the middle of the night, Carter came in and asked to sleep with my husband and me. He cud­dled up between us exactly like Jerry did, and we began to cry. Carter told us not to cry because Jerry said everything was okay. My husband, I, our parents, and those who really knew Jerry have no doubt. Our son’s heart contains much of our son and beats in Carter’s chest. On some level, our son is still alive."

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Quote:The recipient reported:


I gave the boy a name. He’s younger than me and I call him Timmy. He’s just a little kid. He’s a little brother like about half my age. He got hurt bad when he fell down. He likes Power Rangers a lot, I think, just like I used to. I don’t like them anymore, though. I like Tim Allen on ‘Tool Time’, so I called him Tim. I wonder where my old heart went, too. I sort of miss it. It was broken, but it took care of me for a while.

The recipient’s father reported:

Daryl never knew the name of his donor or his age. We didn’t know, either, until recently. We just learned that the boy who died had fallen from a window. We didn’t even know his age until now. Daryl had it about right. Probably just a lucky guess or something, but he got it right. What is spooky, though, is that he not only got the age right and some idea of how he died, he got the name right. The boy’s name was Thomas, but for some reason his immediate family called him ‘Tim’.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-08-02, 11:32 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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