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A Change of Heart: A Memoir
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A Change of Heart: A Memoir

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  43 reviews
After a heart and lung transplant operation, dancer Claire Sylvia discovered that new organs were not the only thing she inherited. Never having liked such foods as beer and chicken nuggets, she suddenly started craving them. After an extraordinary dream, she seeks out the family of her donor -- a teenaged boy who died in a motorcycle accident -- and learns that it is ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Change of Heart is the story of Claire Sylvia who received a heart-lung transplant. She talks about her experiences leading up to the transplant and after the transplant. The most interesting concept which she discusses is that of cellular memory. This is memory transferred by organs to the recipients in organ transplants and certainly seemed to be the case in Claire's transplant. When she met her donor's family she was amazed to learn that he loved green peppers which she had developed a new ...more
Ashley Kimler
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I first picked this book up about 18 years ago (wow... is that right? yep -- it is). It was sitting on my mom's bookshelf and it sort of spoke to me, so I picked it up and started thumbing through the pages. In less than 24 hours, I was had finished. I can see how some of Claire Sylvia's experience might be seen as mere coincidences to people who think in black and white terms. But, this is the book that really opened my eyes to what might be; this story made me fall in love with reading. While ...more
Cassandra Javier
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Something I read more than a decade ago, back when I was 11? :)
It's a memoir about Claire Sylvia's heart transplant--how it affected and changed her life, and how it changed the lives of people around her. Having been transplanted a heart of a man, and being a woman herself, how do you think it went?

It's an emotional, gripping account of a reality that many of us know nothing about. Beautiful book, great read.
About a lady who gets a heart and lung transplant and starts to like some of things her donar likes that she can't explain. It makes you think about whether or not this kind of thing could really happen. And, the importance of donating your organs for others who may need them.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a heart and lung transplant recipient. With very real and sometimes shocking and graphic descriptions of not only the process of what happens when body parts are received and taken, but also a deep and truthful journey into the life and lives of those rare individuals who also must endure the aftermath of such a procedure. A very difficult and painful recovery of both the body and spirit is described in detail. However, only a very small insight is ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Claire Sylvia had heart trouble her entire life. One of her loves was dancing. Eventually she became too weak to dance. She became and invalid who was dying. Her name was placed on the transplant list. She received the heat and lungs of an 18 year old young man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. She soon began to notice subtle changes within herself. It was almost as if another person was present. She noticed changes in her attitudes, food preferences, habits and behaviors. She had a dream ...more
Jessica Whittemore
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. I am currently rehearsing a play about a heart transplant recipient, donor, and the donor's family (The Tin Woman by Sean Grennan) and read this to research. I have never explored the mind-body-spirit connection other than my own feelings and experiences. This was a riveting (if sometimes hokey) first foray into reading about that. I was gratified to read about how being a dancer/artist makes one more connected/open to the connection between mind, body, and spirit.
Molly- The Modern Homeschooler
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although this was a very interesting book, it could have been edited in a few spots to make it more to the point. The info was really interesting and I’m had humanized the whole transplant process for someone Iike me whose never met someone with one. I am now more equipped to be sensitive to transplant patients if I ever meet one! The last chapters with all the stories was SO fun to read. I need to find a book of short stories like that chapter.
Donna LaValley
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book because I gave it only 3 stars. The story about the changes Claire Silvia noticed after her heart-lung transplant interested me immediately after reading the story in magazines years ago. Since then I’d looked forward to reading the book. However, the writing style disappointed me. You know that style where the last half of the paragraph is a series of questions? And those questions have been asked before? Maybe the words will be slightly ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Claire Sylvia is a woman who's always had to be careful with her health, having had a heart murmur for much of her life. When she is finally diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension, she realizes that eventually the only way to stay alive will be to receive a heart and lung transplant. Finally she receives the new organs, but now she's craving beer and chicken nuggets, foods she had never really enjoyed before, and she feels some changes in her personality. It's also wonderful to see how ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
The first part of the book - the author's life prior to surgery - didn't make for particularly compelling reading, but she's an interesting enough person in her own right that it was readable. The cellular memory aspects are worth waiting for - several recipients' stories of taking on attributes of the donor were impossible for me to discount, although I place more of a scientific emphasis on that myself, than the donor's spirit staying behind. Claire's dreams feature in the story, a new agey ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book! An incredible story of a woman who has a heart/lung transplant and the shifts that happen to her mind, body and soul. It's so interesting the psychological aspect of living with someone else's organs in your body when you were dying.

What do those new organs do to a person? How do they effect you and show up in your life? Is your life really your own anymore? The questions have been asked and of course science doesn't have the answers to these questions because science
Apr 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Claire Sylvia provides a vivid personal account of what she experienced as a heart-lung transplant recipient. Many of her experiences are common among heart transplant recipients but what sets Sylvia apart is her belief that the spirit and personality of her donor somehow resides within her body after transplantation and is responsible for changes within her own psyche and personal tastes.Frankly,I don't buy it. Although I have heard other heart transplant patients make similiar claims,it just ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: life-stories
This is the memoir of a woman who received a heart-lung transplant. It relates changes that occurred in her that she believed to be attributes of the person whose organs she received. She later met the donor's family and found many of her impressions of the donor to be true. Also includes anecdotes relating to other transplant recipients that are of a similar vein.

There is a lot New Agey-ness to the author and her book. I am interested in learning more about the effect of transplants on the
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this book after my 1995 kidney transplant. I was very skeptical about the "cellular memory" in organ transplantation. The author did make a good case and by the end of the book I was actually following along with the concept. You have to remember that after any kind of transplant you are on several types of medication, including steroids, which will change your taste buds and emotions. I think we still have a lot to learn, but I am not fully convinced that cellular memory exists. This is ...more
Diana Sandberg
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really interesting, and well-written; a page-turner. Sylvia had a heart-lung transplant in 1988, wrote this book about 10 years later. The story of her life and illness up to the transplant was quite interesting and worth reading, the story of the transplant itself very absorbing; the story of afterwards even more so. She had strange changes to her tastes and personality, as well as dream experiences, that are most intriguing and difficult to explain, and, it turns out, she’s not the only one. ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book portraying the psychological, emotional, and physical difficulties and changes that author, Clair Sylvia, lived through after going through a heart and lung transplant. I found her story to be compelling and interesting. I like how she addresses multiple possible explanations for what happened to her and how she reaches out to others who have gone through similar experiences, giving them comfort and support in letting them know that they are not alone. I highly ...more
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Important work, if only to document the the holographic relationship between our spirit/soul/consciousness and this most important of organs, the heart. How Claire experienced this through the transplant of a young mans heart, replacing her. Recent advances in this subject validates her personal experience.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
My brother, Jon Snelgrove, had a liver transplant on March 15, 1990 so this book was very meaningful to me. Sharing body parts and connecting souls seems like a truly charitable thing to do. Jon had no personality connection with his young donor just great gratitude for an extension of his life.

Thanks to Janet and Don Blackwelder for giving me this book as a gift.
Nov 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tracie by: Massage Therapist
This book was an interesting look at organ donation. The story centers around a woman who gets a heart transplant. Soon after the surgery she finds herself a slightly different person. This book looks at a concept that I learned in massage school called tissue memory -- the thought that our dna may store previous memories.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
My first venture into quantum physics. The real life story of a heart-transplant recipient and how her tastes for things changed post surgery. She miraculously met the family of her heart-donor and realized that the things that have changed are related directly to his likes/preferences, etc. A quick and easy read.
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really like a good biography and this was a very unique story of someone who had a heart transplant and how she changed afterward. She actually took on some of the characteristics of her donor and then went on a journey to find the family. It had a new agey feel which I didn't always like, but I enjoyed the freshness of the topic. A little academic at the end.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story of what happens to a heart transplant patient. Sylvia claims her tastes, her thoughts and many other things changed and they were from the heart of the man who gave his life for her. Definitely is an interesting thought, to say the least.
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fascinating first-hand account of the unexpected psychological effects that organ transplant can have on some recipients; implies that memory and personality doesn't inhere just in the brain, but in all the organs of the body in various degrees.
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Super interesting true story. Really makes you think about transplants of any kind.
Rebecca margoles
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Wow, if you can get an organ and traits hitchhike along, how would that change the world's view of EVERYTHING? I want to read more on the science of it.
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, medical
Woman with a heart-lung transplant takes on a few of the donor's characteristics. Real cool. Godd for people who don't usually read non fiction.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Easy, interesting read. Emphasizes the importance and need for organ donation while exploring the phenomenon of one of the side effects. Can be a little corny at times.
Barbara Hanley
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reading her story was amazing. I have been fascinated by these stories for many years. Touching and I love how it wasn't sugar coated.
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