I often used to wonder as a child ‘what is making me see out of my eyes’ ‘what makes me who I am’. The part of me that inhabits my body but is independent of the shell it occupies. My soul. Even as a child I had some idea of the soul, as simplistic as it seemed back then. The whole idea just made sense to me.

Now, with my years of researching the paranormal I have a specific interest in how the spirit/soul – whatever you want to call it – interacts and impacts on the human body. Stories that relate to organ transplant recipients somehow retaining memories of their donors. Stories of recipients suddenly being imbued with personality changes
that they later find relates to the deceased donor at the time. Fragments of a live lived passed from one body to another.

There are several cases out there of these instances and several theories and hypotheses as to the cause, but I thought I would share some of these cases with you.

One such case took place in 2008, a 47-year-old female named Claire Sylvia who became the first woman in Britain to successfully receive a full heart/lung transplant. When Claire recovered from her transplant, she began to find that she was having strange craving, the like she had never had before. Cravings for beer (which she had never desired to drink before) as well as a change in her eating habits and described having a wild craving for McDonalds Chicken Nuggets (I can relate) – but Claire had never cared for them before her operation. These kinds of changes could quite easily
be explained away if presented on their own in terms of evidence. However, Claire also described having strange dreams post-surgery in which she described her visions of a young man, thin build and gave him a name … ‘Tim L’. Her dreams of Tim were incredibly vivid, to the point that Claire began to suspect that the young man she was seeing was actually her organ donor. Claire would later find that her organ donor was a young man of just 18 -Timothy Lamirande who died in a motorcycle accident. It was said that at the scene, he was found with a bag of McDonalds Chicken Nuggets in his pocket.

Though food appears to be a common theme with transplant donors and recipients but equally, common changes are linked to areas such as music, art, sexual preferences, recreational habits, hobbies and career aspirations. In the case of 45-year-old Sharon Coghlan, she found that not only did her tastes in food change but also her interests in books, music and movies took a drastic turn after her Kidney transplant.

“I didn’t just get my donor’s kidney I also got his taste for food and his love of reading and other habits. I’m living proof that when you donate organs, part of your personality also lives on in the other person. As I recovered, I realised I’d inherited some of my donor’s likes and dislikes. The chick flicks and books I’d loved, I suddenly couldn’t stand. Instead, I began reading war books and historical biographies. My interests seemed more manly. Prior to surgery I
loved seafood. Now the thought of it made me ill. Instead I craved brown bread, mustard and cheese. It was like my taste-buds had been swapped over as well. I went online and discovered cellular memory. Some doctors think it happens, others don’t. I am proof it does.”

This theory of Inherited memory at a cellular level speculates that memories, habits, interests and tastes can be stored, not only in the capacity of the human brain but the very cells of the human body. To explain these parallels between donors and recipients a study was conducted by Pearsall et al., “changes in transplant recipients that parallel the personalities of their donors”. In this study he interviewed ten heart transplant recipients, ten heart/lung recipients and their friends and families/ Also interviewed were the friends and families of the deceased donors. Pearsall found that previously non-existing traits were found in the recipients that could be directly connected to the donor. Not only
were personality changes identified but also perceptions of names and sensory experiences.

Though this is a scientific, empirical research it isn’t without its limitations. The sample size could be criticized as ten of each may not be a satisfactory number to specifically state that these experiences are definitely related the cellular memory transfer alone. The size of the experiment would need to be much larger to adequately analyse the data to come to an ultimate conclusion of that. However, it is certainly interesting and could provide a biological explanation to something that appears in the realms of the paranormal, bridging the gap between spirit and science.

Stranger still are the cases in which not only does the transplant recipient undergo changes to their tastes and personalities but memories too. When I say memories, I mean cases in which the recipient claims to have memories post-transplant of which weren’t there before. Memories that appear to have come from their donor. One such case Involves Daryl, a five-year-old boy who needed a new heart. He finally got the heart he needed from a three-year-old boy who died after falling from a window. Having no previous knowledge of his donor, Daryl began describing to his parents that he saw a young boy in his dreams called “Timmy” who had told him that he had been hurt in a fall. At the time Daryl’s parents had no knowledge of his donor either but were spooked when they were to find out more.
Daryl, who had loved the Power Ranges prior to his surgery had suddenly developed a fear of them. This doesn’t seem so strange does it? Now add to that little “Timmy” had fallen from the window because he was trying to reach his toy Power Ranger. The parents of the little donor were made aware of these occurrences with Daryl. It is
then we find out that the donors name is Thomas but given the nickname Timmy by his friends and family. Timmy’s mother had seen a photo of Daryl with his family and noted how she knew even before she was told that the boy was Daryl, she recognised the young boy smiling back at her , quite literally, as she describes Daryl’s smile being exactly the same as her deceased son.

There is something comforting about these cases, especially for the families of those that have passed. It is comforting to know that even though their loved ones aren’t here, they live on in the lives they have changed. A sacrifice made that has given someone a second chance at life – and they live on not only in the body, but in their hearts.

Aimee Sirdifield

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