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Cheryl Johnson New Kidney

How my new kidney gave me a taste for reading Dostoevsky
"My brainpower has definitely been boosted since having the kidney transplant"
by Jaya Narain

Daily Mail - 15/03/2008

CHERYL Johnson has switched off the soaps and ditched the lowbrow novels.
These days, she prefers to watch documentaries on Egyptology or spend her time reading Jane Austen and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The 37-year-old mother of one says her personality has been transformed since she had a kidney transplant.
She claims that as well as giving her a new lease of life, the new organ has made her tastes more highbrow.
Miss Johnson believes she has picked up characteristics from her donor.
'My brainpower has definitely been boosted since having the kid¬ney transplant,' she said.
'I was telling my mum all about Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment after I had read it and she thought I had gone mad.
'I just find it much more interesting than the types of books I used to read. I don't know why I want to read these types of books now - I just suddenly got the urge.
'I have a list of Jane Austen books that I want to read and I am going through them one by one, starting with Persuasion.'
Miss Johnson, who was divorced 13 years ago and is a full-time mother to Stuart, 16, was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome in 1998. The condition damages the kidneys, causing them to leak protein.
She had her first transplant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary in 2001, but it failed - so last year she had a second at the same hospital. Immediately, there were signs of personality changes which she believes were the characteristics held by her donor - a 59-year-old man who died of a brain haemorrhage. There is a theory called cellular memory phenomenon, which claims human cells contain clues to our personalities and tastes that somehow bypass our brains.
Academics and medical experts have dismissed the theory as 'nonsense' but it has many supporters, not least among transplant patients themselves.
Miss Johnson, from Penwortham, Preston, said: 'You pick up your characteristics from your donor. My son said that when I first had this transplant, I went stroppy and snappy - that wasn't me.
'Now I just want to read all the heavyweight novels from the 19th century when before I would have run a mile from such books, preferring instead a good celebrity autobiography.
'But the best thing about the transplant is it's given my 16-year¬old boy his mum back. I totally respect the family which gave me this kidney.
'They have given me the best thing they can give - a chance for a normal life. I am forever grateful to them.' A spokesman for UK Transplant said: 'While we are aware of the suggestion that transplant recipients take on aspects of the personality of the organ donor, we are not aware of any evidence to support it.
'While not discarding it entirely, we have no reason to believe that it happens. We would be interested to see any definitive evidence that supports it.' Examples cited as proof of cellular memory include a U.S. woman terrified of heights who became a climber and a seven-year-old girl who had nightmares about being killed after being given the heart of a murdered child.
The only case recognised by the scientific community is a 15-year¬old Australian girl whose blood type changed following a liver transplant.