Tim Cusack's Blog
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Is Your Heart Capable of This?

The Capable Heart

If you think phrases like “a broken heart,” “I felt it in my heart,” or “my heart jumped,” are just clichés… There may be more to it than you think.

Did you know as a fetus your heart develops before your brain? Did you know that more information is sent from your heart to your brain than vice versa? And, did you know that your heart is believed to hold memory much like your hippocampus which stores memory in the brain?

Many people who have received heart transplants have reported having various degrees of changes that paralleled the personalities of their donors.   Heart recipients have experienced everything from new cravings for food, changes in music preferences, talents, and habits; to vivid memories that have echoed the last seconds of the donor’s life. This experience is called Cellular Memory Theory or Cell Memory Phenomenon. The scientific world does not agree on the fact of its existence. However, Claire Sylvia, author of “A Change of Heart,” would say that for her, it’s true. After receiving a heart from an 18 year-old male who died in a motorcycle accident, she reported having a craving for beer and chicken nuggets in recovery after surgery. Yes, they found chicken nuggets in the coat pocket of the donor at the accident, and she didn’t like beer before.   This story and many more can be found from heart recipients.

Some of these stories go far beyond food cravings. A 17 year-old, black male was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking with his violin. His music teacher said, “I think he would have played Carnegie Hall someday.” The recipient of his heart was a 47 year-old, blue-collar, white male. The recipient said after the transplant, “I can tell you one thing. I used to hate classical music, but now I love it. I play it all the time.” Even his wife commented that “He’s driving me nuts with this classical music. He sits for hours and listens.”

Another startling case involved a 19 year-old woman killed in an automobile accident. She was a committed vegetarian who owned and operated her own health food restaurant. As she lay dying in the hospital, she was able to write notes to her mother of how she could ‘feel the impact of the car hitting her, like it was going through her body.’ The recipient of her heart, a 29 year-old woman reported,” I know this will sound crazy, but two things happened to me. First, almost every night I feel the accident my donor had. I can feel the impact in my chest. Secondly, I hate meat now. I can’t stand it. Actually, when I even smell it, my heart starts to race. Before, I was the biggest money maker for McDonald’s!”

Heart surgeon, Dr. Jeff Punch, M.D. says, “There are other explanations for these mind-body changes.” He suggests they can be the side effects of transplant medications, pure coincidence or the profound experience of the transplant itself. He believes that anything more is just fantasy.

What do you think? Is this beyond our current scientific capability to understand?  Is it how God made us – in his likeness – far more complicated than we can comprehend? Or, is it simply what Dr. Punch says, “Just fantasy.”

If your life ended right now and someone received your heart, what traits, likes, dislikes, behaviors, and passions would you want passed on?

For me, I want to believe cellular memory to be true. It adds to the mystery of life (as if we need more…). I enjoy believing in these types of theories, miracles, and the unlimited power of the human spirit. It has heart!

P.S.  Be an organ donor!