In 1995, Sonny Graham had been on the verge of death with congestive heart failure.
He had less than six months to live when the call came through from the Medical University of South Carolina, telling him that a heart had just become available.
It belonged to Mr Cottle, 33, who had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
He did not know the identity of the donor, only that the heart belonged to a 33-year-old man.
A year later, Mr Graham contacted the organ donation agency wanting to thank the man's family .
He began writing to Mr Cottle's young widow Cheryl, a mother of four. The couple later met, fell in love, married and moved to Georgia.
Twelve years after the successful transplant operation, Mr Graham,69, shot himself dead in the throat with a shotgun,
Suicide is one of the most selfish acts there are but to put Cheryl now 39, through it twice is sheer heartlessness.
Scientists say there are more than 70 documented cases of transplant patients having personality changes as they take on some of the characteristics of the donor.
Last month, a woman from Lancashire claimed her literary tastes changed radically following a kidney transplant.
Cheryl Johnson used to enjoy celebrity biographies and low-brow best sellers such as The Da Vinci Code.
But now she prefers boring high-brow classics such as Jane Austen's Persuasion and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.
Character changes in transplant recipients are known as cellular memory phenomenon and can be used to explain past life experiences as we have the DNA of our ancestors.