An unsolved mystery: why people change their character and tastes after organ transplantation

Today, thanks to the possibility of organ transplantation, surgeons save the lives of thousands of people around the world. For example, modern technologies make it possible to transplant lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines and even the heart. Kidneys can be taken from donors because a person can live a full life even with one of them. But only deceased patients who have a healthy cardiovascular system and also have the same height, weight and age as the recipient become heart donors. On top of all this, it is very important that the donor has a compatible blood type, otherwise the patient will not survive the surgery. The first heart transplant was performed in 1967, and many recipients of a foreign organ noticed over time that their character and tastes became the same as those of the donor. This phenomenon still poses a great mystery to scientists.

An unsolved mystery: why people change their character and tastes after an organ transplant. Scientists believe that the heart and other organs of a person can store information about his personality. Photo.

Scientists believe that the heart and other organs of a person can store information about his personality

The consequences of organ transplantation

The authors of Science told amazing stories about how people's character changed after organ transplantation Alert. Typically, changes in a person's personality occur after a heart transplant, but sometimes it occurs after transplantation of other organs.

In almost all cases, recipients claim that they adopt the details of the donors' character and tastes, that is, changes do not come out of nowhere. For example, in the 1990s, one woman received a donor heart from a musician and after the operation also began to love music. Before the transplant, her interest in music was not that strong.

The consequences of organ transplantation. One woman, after transplanting the musician's heart, began to feel a strong craving for music. Photo.

Also in the scientific literature there are references to the fact that people adopted tastes for certain foods and even sexual preferences from donors. Some patients even say that along with someone else’s organ, someone else’s memories also migrated to them.

In this regard, a very interesting case was described in 2000. Doctors once transplanted the heart of a policeman into a 56-year-old professor who died from a gunshot to the face. A few weeks after the operation, the patient began to have dreams in which he saw a bright light and then the face of Jesus. The policeman's wife later explained that the man who killed his husband had long hair and a beard – in fact, the professor saw the face of the main suspect in his dreams.

Read also:What is an artificial heart and how does it work?

The unsolved mystery of the human body

Recently, the scientific journal Transplantology published the results of a survey among people who had foreign organs transplanted into their bodies. 23 people with transplanted hearts and 24 owners of other organs answered the questions. Almost 90% of respondents confirmed that after the operation they developed new personality traits. Despite the small number of survey participants, scientists considered these results to be evidence that personality traits are transferred through any organ transplant.

Scientists do not know exactly how character traits and memories are transferred from donor to recipient. But there is an assumption that all living human cells have memory – after transplantation of any part of the body, they transfer data from one organism to another. Even though the nerve connections are severed after an organ transplant, the remaining nerves inside still continue to work. According to a 2018 study, some nerve connections are restored within years after surgery.

An unsolved mystery of the human body. Scientists believe that cells somehow store information about a person's personality. Photo.

Scientists believe that cells somehow store information about a person's personality

There is no particular doubt that donor organs transfer data about the character and tastes of the host – this is indicated by the results of many studies. But why this happens, what all this information is stored inside, scientists do not know. In 2022, approximately 150,000 organ transplants were performed worldwide, and this number is growing every year. So scientists have the opportunity to thoroughly understand this issue and provide an explanation. But at the moment this is a big mystery.

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Surgeons do not have any particular problems with transplanting kidneys, hearts and many other organs. But transplanting a human head is a very difficult task even with modern technology. In 1967, American neurosurgeon Robert White was the first in history to transplant the head of one monkey into the body of another primate. The transplanted head lived for eight days and even tried to bite its tormentor. If you want to learn about how scientists tried to transplant a human head, read the material of my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova, “Head Transplant: Reality, Fiction and Science.” Be sure that you will learn a lot of interesting things!