One of the strangest cases in the history of dream research is described in the documentary, The Secret World of Dreams. It describes the amazing story of a woman named Claire Sylvia, a 47-year-old drama teacher from Boston and former professional dancer with several modern dance companies. In 1983, she was diagnosed as having primary pulmonary hypertension – an often fatal, rare progressive disease which causes blood vessels in the lungs to collapse. Her health slowly deteriorated until she was forced to give up her job and became home bound. She was also dependent on oxygen and could only move around in a wheelchair with great difficulty. A heart-lung transplant was her only hope and the risks involved were considerable.
Soon after the transplant, she began having strange and incredibly vivid dreams about a young man she didn’t recognize. Eventually, Silvia realized that the young man in her dreams was the 18-year-old organ donor whose heart and lungs resided in her chest. Through her continuing dream contacts with her donor, she learned a lot about him including his name. She then decided to do some research to find out if this “heavenly” information was correct. Her research proved that it was indeed correct. Silvia then met the young man’s grieving family and Silvia shared with them the amazing story of her contact with him through her dreams. Claire Silvia died in August of 2009 from a blood clot in her lung; 21 years after her heart-lung transplant. The following is the detailed account of her amazing story:
“My mother was basically dying,” says Amara, “She prepared herself for death and she was preparing me for her death. She labored to get up in the morning to go to the bathroom. Her breathing was labored and I was afraid every morning whether she would be alive or not.
Then Silvia’s bizarre dreams began to unfold.
“I started to have a series of dreams. One dream was that I had the transplant and I had to drink four glasses of milk a day. At the time I questioned this, I said, ‘I wonder what this means? Where does this four glasses of milk come in at? I don’t understand what this means.’
“And there was no explanation so I just let it go. I lived each day with a thought and a prayer that I would live till the next day and that I would live to see my daughter graduate from high school which was about a year away.”
Finally, Silvia’s prayers were answered.
“The phone rang and it was the transplant coordinator. She very calmly said, ‘We officially got permission to do heart and lung transplants and we have a donor for you today.’
“I was speechless. All I could say was, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God!'”
Within hours, Silvia was rushed into surgery and after a delicate three-hour operation, she awoke.
“I knew that I would have to take an anti-rejection drug, cyclosporine. They injected a certain amount of this liquid into two little cups of milk. Then at night, I repeated this same process. I realized that these were the four cups of milk a day in my dream.
“At first I didn’t accept it, I kept saying, ‘I must have gotten this information from someplace.’
“I kept checking around and nobody told me. Then I thought, ‘This is bizarre. I don’t know why and I still don’t.'”
It was May of 1988, and Silvia’s operation was Connecticut’s Yale-New Haven Hospital’s first successful heart-lung transplant on a female patient.
Five days later, journalists were invited into the hospital to interview Silvia in the intensive care unit. During the press conference, a reporter asked her:
“Now that you’ve had this operation, what do you want right now more than anything?”
Silvia replied: “To tell you the truth, right now I’d die for a beer.”
Silvia was momentarily stunned by what she had just said, not so much because it was flippant, but because of the fact that she does not like beer and has never liked beer.
When Silvia returned home, another sequence of unexplained occurrences began. Her taste in food changed dramatically. Five weeks after the operation, when she was allowed to drive for the first time, and she headed straight for Kentucky Fried Chicken – a fast food she had never previously enjoyed. She couldn’t explain this sudden craving. Nor could she explain many other apparent changes in her personality, such as, why she was starting to look at women the way a man might look at women, for example, or why her favorite colors are now green and blue rather than the hot shades of pink, red and gold she used to prefer. Other strange things occurred. Sylvia started eating green peppers, a vegetable she had formerly meticulously picked out of salads.
Around this time Sylvia had a strong, unexplainable desire to visit France. On her return, just when Silvia thought her life couldn’t get any stranger – it did – in another mysterious dream.
“I’m in an open field and it’s very light. It’s daytime and I’m in a playful relationship with a young man whom I see clearly. He is tall, has sandy colored hair and his name is Tim L.
“I come back and say goodbye to him and as we approach each other, we kiss, and as we kiss, I feel as if I inhale him into me. It’s like taking this enormous breath. And I know that he will be with me together forever. But it also seemed that this man in my dreams, whom I knew as Tim, must be my donor.
“I was very curious to find out who my donor was because of all the things that were happening to me and because of the dreams I was having – and the feeling of living with his presence.”
Claire became convinced her donor was trying to communicate with her. She contacted the hospital but they informed her that donor records were confidential. When all hope seemed lost, her friend Fred Stern called to tell her of a message he received in his own dream.
“I had a clear image of a dream,” says Fred Stern, “that we had gone to the basement of the public library and had seen in the Portland newspaper a story on either the third or fourth page several days before her operation. A story about the boy who was killed and whom she had gotten her heart from.”
Claire and Stern made arrangements to meet at the local library.
“I met Fred at the public library and we looked at the papers the week preceding my transplant. Sure enough, the day before my transplant, as was in his dream, the obituary of a young man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was 18 years old. His name was Tim L. as it was in my dream. It felt like my heart stopped beating for a moment. I was standing up and I remember getting kind of weak all over. My knees went a little weak. It was a shock.”
According to Fred Stern: “It was almost like magic, like some sense of knowing. It is just wonderful to be a part of it – this unfolding.”
It turned out that Tim L. had died in a motorcycle accident shortly before Silvia’s life saving surgery. She had received the organs of Tim Lamirande, 18, of Saco, Maine.
“I was shocked because now it became more real. Now I had all the information. I had the family’s name. I had details. This person really existed.”
Wanting to know more about her donor, Silvia wrote to Tim’s family in Maine and made arrangements to meet them.
“I was very excited,” says Tim’s sister, Lee Ann, “and the whole family was very excited to meet Claire.”
Sylvia then met the Lamirande family. According to Fred Stein:
“She [Claire Silvia] was very apprehensive because she didn’t know what she was going to meet, but she was warmly received, particularly by Tim’s sisters. They were very positive and said how much Claire’s atmosphere and behavior reminded them of their brother. What was important too was that we had come to the conclusion from her dreams that the donor must have been a hyperactive person, and the family confirmed this, saying that when he was little he had to be kept on a leash because otherwise he would run off, and at the time that he died he was holding down three jobs as well as attending college.”
Tim’s sister, Lee Ann, said:
“It was like meeting my brother all over again for the very first time – seeing him alive again. Claire was very warm towards us. She was loving. She was loving like Tim was. There was so much feeling that it was absolutely exhausting.”
Silvia told the Lamirande family about her dream. Afterward, Tim’s sister replied: “My first reaction to Claire’s dream was one of disbelief. I really didn’t believe it until she just started describing things about my brother – like how he was tall and wiry. She described him almost to a T. She was getting the information from her dream. She described how Tim was loving and that he came to her and wanted to be a friend. I just kind of felt that, ‘Yeah, that’s what Tim would do.'”
Silvia told them: “When I met the family, I was trying to corroborate some of the things that had been happening to me. I asked them if he happened to like green peppers and they said, ‘Oh, yes, he used to love green peppers. He’d fry them up with cabasa.’
“They told me his favorite food was chicken nuggets and that he had apparently just bought them before he died because they had to pull them out of his motorcycle jacket when they found him. When they told me that I said, ‘Oh my God!'”
The Lamirande’s also confirmed that Tim liked beer. And Sylvia’s burning desire to visit France was also explained. The Lamirandes were French Canadian. Tim’s favorite colors were also blue and green.
One night after visiting the family, Sylvia dreamt that 22 motorcycles were being revved up to be driven round town to commemorate some event. In the morning she realized it would have been Tim’s 22nd birthday. To celebrate, she asked a friend with a motorcycle to take her for a ride. It was, she said, “exhilarating.”
Tim’s sister Jackie remarked: “Why would she have a dream about her donor unless God was trying to tell her in a way who we were and trying to make it easier for her to get to us so she could see that there was good out of everything she went through.”
Silvia stated: “All the images that have come to me since the transplant are, in and of themselves, having to do with this new part of me.”
Over the years, Sylvia kept in touch with Lamirande’s family. When Silvia died in 2009, Joan Lamirande said, fighting back tears in a telephone interview from her home in Saco:
“She was a wonderful person. As long as she was living it was as if my son was still alive. Now that she is gone, I know that my son is gone.”
The implications of Sylvia inheriting personal characteristics of her donor are astounding. This is because it supports “cellular memory” which is the hypothesis that memories can be stored – not just in the brain – but in all the cells of the human body. One particular study published in a 2008 edition of Nature called Cellular Memory Hints at the Origins of Intelligence is suggestive of cellular memory; however, mainstream medical science does not acknowledge memory outside of the brain is possible. If it were possible, it would mean medical science would have to re-evaluate the accepted view that all memory is stored in the brain, much like data is stored on a computer’s hard drive. Nevertheless, research in Israel indicates that 34% of people who have undergone heart transplants have had some kind of experience of what is now known as “trait transfer.” Perhaps the reason more people have not come forward is that there is a great deal of denial going on. There is also an interpretation of quantum mechanics called the Holographic Principle and its associated Holonomic Brain Theory which mathematically allows for quantum information to be stored holographically in the universe – assuming quantum consciousness is true and the brain does, in fact, functions like a biological quantum computer. There are articles, such as this one, which seems to affirms even more that cellular memory is true.
Contacting Deceased Loved Ones Through Dreams
Many people reported they had been contacted by a deceased loved one while they were sound asleep. Because they didn’t have any other name for their experience, they usually called it a dream. However, most quickly added, “But it just wasn’t like an ordinary dream.” We call these experiences sleep-state after-death communications (ADCs) and they are a very common type of ADC. The following dream ADCs are reprinted here by permission from Bill and Judy Guggenheim‘s book, Hello From Heaven.
There are many significant differences between an ordinary dream and a sleep-state ADC. A dream is generally fragmented, jumbled, filled with symbolism, and incomplete in various ways. Though some are very intense emotionally, they typically have a quality of unreality about them and are often soon forgotten.
In contrast, sleep-state ADCs feel like actual face-to-face visits with deceased loved ones. They are much more orderly, colorful, vivid, and memorable than most dreams. In fact, some may be after-death visions that occur during sleep.
The following reports are examples of sleep-state ADCs in which a deceased loved one broke into an ordinary dream.
(1) Robin is the director of a child care center in Florida. She had this timely visit from her grandfather several years after he died of a heart attack in his 70’s.
“I was in my first year at college, sleeping in my dorm room. I was dreaming about something when Grandpa broke into my dream! He was right there, and I could smell his cologne and tobacco and feel his warmth.
“He seemed concerned and protective.
“He said, ‘Lock the windows! Lock the windows! You’re supposed to remember to take care of yourself! Lock the windows!’
“It was a definite warning.
“I woke up startled and sat up and looked around. My room had one set of windows that looked out onto a courtyard and another set over by the fire escape. So I got up and locked all the windows.
“About half an hour later, there was a scream from the girl in the room down the hall. A man had come up the fire escape and apparently had tried my windows, and then he had gone on to hers. Later he was caught!
“Grandpa appeared when support was obviously needed. He proved that he would be with me forever.”
(2) Ann is an art framer in Maryland. She was 21 years old when she was contacted by her 18 year old brother, Barry, who had died in a motorcycle accident:
“After Barry was killed, I was feeling so angry and bitter at the world. About a month later, I had what I call a dream, but it wasn’t a dream. It was like I was talking to him face-to-face.
“I was in the backyard at my parents’ cottage, and Barry came walking towards me. He was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt – his usual costume. His blond, curly hair was full of light. He looked beautiful.
“He seemed very happy, content, and full of love. He seemed worldly, like he knew everything – no doubts, no questions, just full of confidence. A beautiful light was behind him and around him – a gorgeous, warm light.
“I said, ‘Barry, what are you doing here?’
“He looked at me and said, ‘I came to tell you that everything is all right.’
“I asked, ‘What do you mean? Didn’t it hurt when you died?’
“Barry said, ‘It did for a minute. It felt like a squeezing sensation. Then I was riding down a dark tunnel. And all of a sudden, I came into this beautiful, brilliant white light.’
“He kept smiling at me, and I was feeling full of love and light myself. It was so intense!
“He said, ‘I just want to tell you that I love you, Ann.’
“Then he turned around and walked away.
“I immediately woke up, and all the anger and frustration I felt were gone. I really believe Barry came to tell me he was fine so that I would be okay. I call it a dream, for not being able to give it another name. But it really happened!”
(3) Greg is a 20 year old college student in West Virginia. He had this rendezvous with his friend, Evan, who was electrocuted in an industrial accident at a construction site at age 20:
“Evan and I were best friends for nine years. We did everything together, except when we were at school or working or started going out with girls.
“Two nights after Evan died, I had a dream. I was where the road splits and facing each other, and everything was lifelike.
“We were really excited about seeing one another. Evan was so happy and cheerful. He appeared the same as always and in good health. He had a great big smile on his face.
“I asked him, ‘What happened?’
“He said, ‘I was up putting a light fixture on a twenty-foot pole when I hit some electrical wires. Something happened and I started to fall.’
“He put one hand vertically and one hand horizontally to show me how he fell.
“Evan said he felt scared at that moment, and then he felt nothing else.
“He said, ‘I promise, I didn’t mean for that to happen.’
“He also wanted to assure me that he suffered none whatsoever through that experience.
“He told me he didn’t want any of us worrying about him or being extremely sad that he was gone because he was in a great place. He was well taken care of and very happy, waiting for us to join him someday. Then I woke up.
“I never had a dream like that before. It was very special to me that I was able to communicate with Evan after he died. It was like we parted with the realization that we will be back together someday.”
(4) Janet is a nurse in North Dakota. She became a bereaved mother when her 4 year old son, Toby, died of a brain hemorrhage:
“This occurred approximately one year after my son died. I recall the dream as if I had just had it last night. I was standing on a river bank and looking over at Toby on the other side.
“His side was a lush green with beautiful trees. The water was a beautiful blue, and there were birds I could hear. It was a paradise, like the Garden of Eden. Everything was so quiet and peaceful.
“Toby was standing in grass and flowers up to his waist, close to the edge of the river. He was a little boy, the same little guy that I lost. He was wearing a striped T-shirt and blue jeans and was so very real and happy.
“I kept trying to get over to Toby, but I couldn’t. He looked up at me and spoke with such a calmness.
“He said, ‘No, Mom, you can’t come over here. I’m okay. I’m fine. But you can’t come over here.’
“He had to tell me that several times because I wanted to cross the river to be with him.
“Toby was calming me like an adult would. I almost felt like a child in comparison, as if an older, wiser person was talking to me. He was telling me to settle down and realize that his life is good now. He gave me the sense that he is at peace and that he’s where he belongs.
“The dreams seemed so real, as real as life itself. When I woke up, I felt crushed that the dream was over. And yet I felt so comforted by it.”
(4) Rosemarie is an administrative assistant in North Carolina. She had this enlightened dream about 4 months after her grandmother died of cancer at age 66:
“One night when I was sleeping, I saw my grandmother – it was like a beautiful dream. She was right there with me. It felt like we were on another realm or in a different dimension.
“I only saw her face and shoulders – she was very young and beautiful. Grandma looked like she was a girl in her early twenties. I was surprised she was so youthful, but I recognized her instantly as my grandmother. It was like she could choose to be whatever age suited her.
“As she came closer, she was glowing and radiating love. I felt an energy and warmth envelop me. It felt like a very nice, tingling massage. I was overcome with this feeling of unconditional love, like nothing I had ever done was wrong.
“I was telling her over and over, ‘I love you. I love you. I love you.’
“She was saying, ‘I know you do. I’m happy and I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I’m in heaven.’
“Grandma affirmed there is a heaven, and that no matter what you’ve done, in God’s eyes you are forgiven. You are pure, and you are loved in the way only he could love you. It touched me so deeply that I knew it was true.
“All of a sudden, I realized I was sitting up in bed and Grandma was gone. But I didn’t grieve for her after that at all.”
(5) Gayle is an artist in North Carolina. The ordinary dream she was having was interrupted by her 21 year old son, Alex, who had drowned in a boating accident:
“I had been under a lot of distress, as any mother is with the loss of her child. Two days after his burial, I woke up around 5:00 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep and went into the living room and sat down. I keep praying, ‘God, please! I have to know where my son is. I have to know if he’s okay.’
“I felt impressed to go back to bed, so I lay down and fell asleep. I started dreaming that I was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for my two younger sons – and Alex walked in!
“I realized he wasn’t supposed to be there. So I spoke aloud and said, ‘Alex is here!’
“His brothers looked at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’
“Then I realized they couldn’t see him – I was the only one who could.
“Alex had the most glorious smile on his face. He had a glow, a celestial radiance. His expression was one of complete peace, happiness, and contentment.
“I walked up to him and said, ‘Alex, you are with Jesus, aren’t you?’
“He put his hands on my shoulders, and I put my hands around his waist, and he said, ‘Yes, Mama.’
“Then I woke up with the most peaceful feeling because I knew Alex was okay. I know his spirit is with God and that he is waiting for the time the rest of us will be with him.”