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Observations placeholder

Mario's new heart stops him dancing



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Change of Heart [Case Histories gathered by William Novak]

Mario, an energetic, blunt-spoken former shipbuilder in his early fifties, had received the heart of a man half his age. Before the transplant, Mario had suffered from painful episodes of angina, but despite all the agony he had endured, and although he didn't think of himself as especially religious, Mario wouldn't agree to the transplant until his parish priest assured him that it didn't violate Church doctrine.

When organ transplants were first performed, Mario had been opposed to them: "Fixing things, is fine. But replacing things? I didn't think that was right.  And yet I wanted to stay alive'"

After the transplant, Mario and his wife noticed a number of changes in his habits. He had never liked bananas before; now he did. He had rarely bothered with dessert; he now loved sweets.

And while he had previously been fastidiously neat, after the transplant he was far more relaxed.  Mario's wife found these changes perfectly understandable: "Of course he's different.  There are genes and energy in him from somebody else's body.  Those things affect you."

In at least one respect, Mario's experience was the exact opposite of mine [Claire Sylvia's]: although he knew very little about his donor,  he was convinced he had received the heart of a couch potato, and that this new heart was slowing him down.

"I have the feeling my donor's heart isn't strong enough to take care of me. I'm sure he was  a professor or somebody who sat around a lot and probably didn’t care for my kind of life. I've always been on the go."

An enthusiastic dancer, Mario reproached his donor for ruining his dance rhythms, and he said he was teaching his new heart how to dance. "I lost my ability to dance." he told us' "It's never fully come back to me.  I’ve even yelled out in public a couple of times that I didn't know how to dance – that he didn't know how."

Mario also believed that his new heart had undermined his former skill at horseshoes. He loved the game, and until the transplant he had been very good at it. But he was now dismayed to find his tosses were going sideways instead of end-over-end, and that some of his throws were falling short.

Here too he would openly rebuke his heart for screwing up. "You dumb bastard," he'd say. "You can't even reach the pit."

About a year after his transplant, Mario had an experience that really shook him up. He and his wife were visiting relatives in the Boston area, and on Easter Sunday they walked into a little church where, to his astonishment, Mario felt completely at home. Even the priest looked familiar, and Mario instinctively knew his way around. He led his wife upstairs to a certain pew, as if he had been there often.

"Have we ever been to this church?" he asked her.

"Never" she replied.

"Well, I have," he said.

"I never knew what part of Boston my guy was from," Mario told us, "but that morning I had no doubt that this was his church." Mario found the experience so unsettling that he returned to the little church three more times until he felt comfortable. "I believe there's another spirit in me," he concluded, "and that we finally bonded together and somehow made a life for both of us."

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Organ transplantation