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Old 10 July 2013, 01:37 PM
A Turtle Named Mack's Avatar
A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
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Icon402 Patient Wakes Up as Doctors Get Ready to Remove Organs

It was exactly midnight when Caroline Burns eerily opened her eyes and looked at the operating lights above her, shocking doctors who believed she was dead and were about to remove her organs and donate them to patients on the transplant waiting list. The Syracuse Post-Standard unearthed a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that chronicled the series of errors that led to the near-organ removal on a living patient at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2009. "The patient did not suffer a cardiopulmonary arrest (as documented) and did not have irreversible brain damage," the HHS report concluded. "The patient did not meet criteria for withdrawal of care."

Just dwell on this story for a while to get the creeps, eh?
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Old 10 July 2013, 01:52 PM
rujasu rujasu is offline
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Burns, who was 41 at the time, was initially found unresponsive and surrounded by empty bottles of Xanax, Benadryl, a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory drug on Oct.16, 2009, according to the report
Although Burns opened her eyes at the last minute, saving herself from the organ harvest procedure, she committed suicide in 2011. The family never sued, and family members told the Syracuse Post-Standard that Burns was too depressed to be upset about what happened to her at St. Joseph's.
This is the saddest part, though... there was clear evidence she was suicidal, and no one was able to help her get out of that.
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Old 10 July 2013, 02:18 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
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As an aside, wouldn't a drug overdose make many/most/all of her organs unsuitable for transplant? Or would it just affect the ones that work on the blood like the liver and kidneys?
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Old 10 July 2013, 02:34 PM
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Kallah Kallah is offline
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Wow, that did make me shiver, but it would never make me reconsider my decision to be an organ donor. When I signed up (and every time I update my paperwork) I make sure that my intentions are clear: I'm not dead until my heart stops beating and heroic measure cannot remedy that. There have been huge strides made in the last decade in what can be harvested from a donor after cardiac death, so I feel confidant that they'll find something to use once I'm done with it.
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Old 10 July 2013, 03:53 PM
Dr. Dave Dr. Dave is offline
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
As an aside, wouldn't a drug overdose make many/most/all of her organs unsuitable for transplant? Or would it just affect the ones that work on the blood like the liver and kidneys?
I'm not a transplant doctor or a specialist in either of those organs specifically, but I would think that the answer is not necessarily. If the drug caused organ failure that caused the death, then yes that organ would be too damaged- for example an acetaminophen overdose would destroy the liver- or if it was someone that was chronically using a drug that damaged an organ, then that would be a problem.

But for example, if someone took a bunch of morphine and Xanax and stopped breathing/ stopped heart rate leading to death, the organs themselves might still be OK. That the liver and kidneys had to metabolize the drugs would not necessarily make them unsuitable.
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Old 10 July 2013, 04:02 PM
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Latiam Latiam is offline
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They have made mistakes before. I read an article about it a long time ago. But they are rare.
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Old 10 July 2013, 05:34 PM
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Mickey Blue Mickey Blue is offline
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To build on Dr. Dave's statements (with his same caveats) there are many drugs that can kill you without necessarily damaging your organs; some slow or stop your breathing, some interrupt your cardiac rhythm, etc, etc.

While many drugs are toxic to your liver and kidneys the issue is with those organs involvement with filtration, such drugs would not necessarily cause harm to other organs such as heart, lungs, eyes, bone marrow, blood, pancreas, spleen, etc, etc.

I agree that a story like the above is pretty horrifying but it appears like such a thing would be a result of a failure to follow proper procedure unless this hospital operates under very different protocols than every hospital I've worked at/with.

Sort of reminds me of stories of people who donate blood at end up being infected with some terrible disease; it probably happens, but they are very rare and clearly the exception, not the norm.
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