With all my fears, though, I was just grateful to be alive.

I was also deeply thankful that a family I'd never met had made it possible for me to by-pass death and rejoin the world.

I couldn't speak, but managed to wiggle my fingers. I envisioned the new heart breaking free of its stitches and popping right out of my body.

I was freer and more independent than before - as if I had taken on a more masculine outlook.

My personality was changing, too, and becoming more masculine. "You're lumbering - like a musclebound football player." This new masculine energy wasn't limited to my walk.

So can elements of a person's character - or even their soul - be transplanted along with a heart?

One woman who believes this to be the case is CLAIRE SYLVIA, a divorced mother of one.

A month later, I left the hospital and moved into a medical halfway house a few miles away.

Now that I could eat like a normal person, I found, bizarrely, I'd developed a sudden fondness for certain foods I hadn't liked before: Snickers bars, green peppers, Kentucky Fried Chicken takeaway.

Until the transplant, I had spent most of my adult life either in a relationship with a man or hoping to be in one.

But after the operation, while I still felt attracted to men, I didn't feel that same need to have a boyfriend.

Yesterday, the Mail told the extraordinary story of how a heart transplant recipient in America committed suicide - just like the man whose heart he had received 12 years previously.