Human heart left onboard Southwest flight prompts in-air turnaround

Galtero Lara
Diciembre 16, 2018

The heart, which was supposed to arrive in Seattle, mistakenly remained onboard a connecting flight to Dallas. But the heart was not removed from the Southwest flight and instead continued on to Dallas.

The plane spent three hours in the air - landing 12 hours before the time-limit on its viability for use would have expired, according to the Seattle Times. Deanna Santa of Sierra Donor Services in Sacramento, California, confirmed to the outlet that the heart was being sent to the tissue processor to recover a valve, which would be used in a future transplant, but did not yet have a designated recipient. Santana said that everyone involved with this transport would evaluate what went wrong. "We did everything that we possibly could to make sure those gifts got to the right place and in the end they ultimately all did get to the right place".

Passengers were shocked when the captain explained that the heart was intended for delivery to a Seattle hospital after a previous flight from Sacramento, the Seattle Times reported. "The heart in question traveled from California, to Washington, to the other side of Idaho, and back to Washington", he noted. "We sincerely regret the inconvenience to the customers impacted by the delay, and we are following up with them with a gesture of goodwill to apologize for the disruption to their travel", a Southwest spokesperson told Newsweek.

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The heart donor's family was told what happened, said Monica Johnson, Sierra Donor Services' executive director.

The Southwest Airlines flight bound for Dallas, Texas, had to turn around and head back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after the crew realised someone had forgotten to unload the heart.

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