An unusual tale of two men, one heart and one wife

An unusual tale of two men, one heart and one wife

Renee Dudley has written ( about an incredible story involving two men, one heart and one wife. Dudley writes that in 1995, thirty three year old Terry Cottle shot himself, in a suicide attempt twelve years ago in the South Carolina home he occupied with his wife Cheryl. Cottle was put on life support in a Charleston hospital. At the of his suicide shooting, Sonny Graham, in Georgia, was Graham_4 suffering from congestive heart failure problems and was on a heart transplant waiting list. When the decision was made to take Cottle off life support, fifty eight year old Graham was notified that he should immediately go to Charleston for a heart transplant using Cottle’s heart. After a successful transplant Graham was discharged from the hospital without knowing the identity of the man whose heart he had received.

(Sonny & Cheryl Graham at a 2006 memorial for organ donors-Photo:

Graham wanted to thank the family that donated the heart he had received and in 1996, through the organ donation agency, he located Cottle’s widow Cheryl. The  two corresponded for a couple of months and then Graham traveled to Charleston to meet her in 1997. Eventually they fell in love. Dudley reports that in 2001 Graham bought Cheryl Cottle a home in Vidalia, near Hilton Head Georgia where Graham lived and worked. When he retired from his job as plant manager in 2003, he moved in with Cheryl and her four children. Between them, through previous marriages, they had six children and six grandchildren living in South Carolina and Georgia. Cheryl was thirty five and Graham sixty five. That story is unusual enough, but there is more to this story involving a second tragic and unique ending.

On Tuesday of this week, April Fools Day, Sonny Graham, age 69, was found in a utility building at the family home. He had shot himself in the throat with a shotgun. Sonny Graham, married to the widow of suicide victim Terry Cottle and sharing Cottle’s transplanted heart, had, himself, committed suicide. The single heart shared by two men had finally stopped beating leaving the woman each had married a widow for a second time. There is no information as to the reason and the tragic mystery remains unsolved at the writing by Renee Dudley.

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