Man Received Heart from Suicide Victim, Marries Donor's Widow, Then Dies The Same Way

Man Received Heart from Suicide Victim, Marries Donor’s Widow, Then Dies from Suicide
By Divya Shree
Edited By Stephanie Dawson

Heart transplants are rather common these days. This is about a man who received the heart of a person who committed suicide, married the donor’s wife, then died in a similar way.
Terry Cottle committed suicide and his heart was given to a man named Sonny Graham. Mr. Graham later married the wife of Mr. Cottle. Mr. Graham started writing letters to Mrs. Cheryl Cottle after learning he received the heart from Mr. Cottle.

12 years after marrying Cheryl Mr. Graham shot himself dead in similar circumstances to her former husband. Unfortunately it was the same wife in mourning.

Cheryl Graham

Friends of the couple report that Cheryl Graham (nee Cottle) a nurse, is shocked by this weird change of circumstances. Official reports show the 60 year-old Mr. Graham shot himself in the throat using a shotgun. His dead body was found in a garage belonging to the couple. In 1995 Mr. Graham escaped death after suffereing from congestive heart failure. He had about six months left to live when a call from Medical University of South Carolina came reporting a heart had become available that could be transplanted. That heart was from Cottle, who was 33 years and had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

heart transplant Graham

The identity of the heart donor remained confidential, the only fact disclosed to Mr. Graham was the age of the donor. A year after the successful transplant Graham contacted the organ donation agency to learn about the donor so he could thank the family of the man who gave him the gift of life. That is when Mr. Graham started writing letters to Mrs. Cottle who was a young widow with 4 children. They later met, fell in love, and were married. Mrs. Graham later said she was glad something so good came from something so bad.


Scientists suggest that in many cases of organ transplant the recipients start exhibiting some characteristics of the donor. These character changes in the organ recipient are called cellular memory phenomenon. Medical experts are not convinced of this concept and insist there is lack of research and evidence on this matter.