Personality changes following heart transplantation: The role of cellular memory

Med Hypotheses. 2020 Feb;135:109468. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109468. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


Personality changes following heart transplantation, which have been reported for decades, include accounts of recipients acquiring the personality characteristics of their donor. Four categories of personality changes are discussed in this article: (1) changes in preferences, (2) alterations in emotions/temperament, (3) modifications of identity, and (4) memories from the donor's life. The acquisition of donor personality characteristics by recipients following heart transplantation is hypothesized to occur via the transfer of cellular memory, and four types of cellular memory are presented: (1) epigenetic memory, (2) DNA memory, (3) RNA memory, and (4) protein memory. Other possibilities, such as the transfer of memory via intracardiac neurological memory and energetic memory, are discussed as well. Implications for the future of heart transplantation are explored including the importance of reexamining our current definition of death, studying how the transfer of memories might affect the integration of a donated heart, determining whether memories can be transferred via the transplantation of other organs, and investigating which types of information can be transferred via heart transplantation. Further research is recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • DNA / genetics
  • Emotions
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Music
  • Personality*
  • RNA / genetics
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Temperament
  • Young Adult


  • RNA
  • DNA