Doctors at a New York hospital were about to remove the organs of a woman they thought was dead when she opened her eyes to the amazement of the doctors.
Colleeen Burns, 41, of Syracuse, New York, was admitted to St Joseph’s Hospital Health Centre in October 2009 after a drug overdose.
Doctors concluded that she was brain dead, when in fact she was in a coma, and were preparing to harvest her organs for donation when she woke up on the operating table.
The hospital was fined $US6000 (N966,600) after the state Health Department found that doctors ignored signs that Burns was still alive.
The day before her organs were to be removed, Burns responded to a reflex test. Her toes curled down when a nurse scraped the bottom of her foot with her finger. Also, her nostrils flared on her way to the operating room, indicating that she was breathing independently. Her lips and tongue were also moving.
Dr David Mayer, a general vascular surgeon and associate professor of clinical surgery in New York Medical College, told the Post-Standard that the decision of doctors to apply a sedative before removing the organs was strange.
“It would sedate her to the point that she could be non-reactive,” Dr Mayer said. “If you have to sedate them or give them pain medication, they’re not brain dead and you shouldn’t be harvesting their organs.”
Sadly, Burns committed suicide 16 months later. The family didn’t sue the hospital because her mother, Lucille Kuss, said she had been severely depressed before the incident and afterwards was not concerned that doctors almost took her life.
The hospital did not report the incident or provide an explanation until the Post-Standard journalists started asking questions.
The hospital was also fined $US16,000 for a separate incident in which a patient fell and injured her head after she was left unattended.
The hospital spokesman said that they’ve learned from the experience and “have modified our policies to include the type of unusual circumstance presented in this case.”