Woman Declared ‘Dead’ Opened Eyes Just Before Her Organs Were Harvested

Excerpted from THE BLAZE

A hospital in Syracuse, New York, has been fined $6,000 by the state health department for physicians nearly harvesting the organs of a woman thought dead but who was actually alive.

The incident occurred at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in 2009 after patient Colleen Burns had “died” of cardiac arrest as the result of a drug overdose, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Here’s more from the report detailing the investigation:

A series of mistakes that began shortly after Burns arrived in the emergency room suffering from a drug overdose led to the near catastrophe, the investigations showed. A review by the state Health Department found:

Staff skipped a recommended treatment to prevent the drugs the patient took from being absorbed by her stomach and intestines.
Not enough testing was done to see if she was free of all drugs.
Not enough brain scans were performed.
Doctors ignored a nurse’s observations indicating Burns was not dead and her condition was improving.

The hospital made no effort to thoroughly investigate what went wrong until it was prodded by the state.

Tests performed to ensure the woman was dead at the time included a reflex test in which Burns’ toes curled. Her nostrils flared and her lips and tongue moved, among other signs mentioned by the Post-Standard as it reviewed documents from the state via a Freedom of Information Act request.

These signs did not stop the near donation of Burns organs from going forward though. It wasn’t until she was in the operating room about to undergo the procedure when she opened her eyes.

“Dead people don’t curl their toes,” Dr. Charles Wetli, a forensic pathologist in New Jersey, told the Post-Standard. “And they don’t fight against the respirator and want to breathe on their own.”

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One thought on “Woman Declared ‘Dead’ Opened Eyes Just Before Her Organs Were Harvested

  1. Pingback: “Hospital errors lead to ‘dead’ patient opening eyes during organ harvesting” « GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website

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