'Dead' patient wakes up just before organ harvest

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New York, July 11: A patient who had been declared 'dead' opened her eyes just as doctors prepared to remove her organs in a hospital in New York.

The 41-year-old woman Colleen S Burns was reportedly admitted into St Joseph's emergency department in 2009 after overdosing on Xanax, Benadryl and a muscle relaxant.

Hospital notes revealed that the doctors thought she had undergone "cardiac death." After doctors consulted with the family, they agreed to withdraw life support and donate her organs, 'Syracuse.com' reported.

The hospital's mishandling of the case was part of the reason the state Health Department fined St Joseph's Hospital Health Center $22,000 last September.

The department found hospital's care of Burns in 2009 unacceptable and a federal agency criticised the hospital for not properly investigating the cause.

Actually Burns was in a deep coma from her overdose, and did not have irreversible brain damage.

The department discovered that the staff did not perform a recommended treatment to stop the drugs from being absorbed into her stomach and intestines, did not test to see if she was free of all drugs and did not complete enough brain scans.

They also did not wait long enough before recommending the patient was taken off life support.

Despite all the signs that Burns was still alive and had brain function, a nurse injected her with a sedative and failed to note it on the chart, the report said.

Having her daughter mistaken as dead and nearly cut open at the hospital was a horrible experience for the family, said Burns's mother, Lucille Kuss. The doctors never explained what went wrong, said Kuss.

"They were just kind of shocked themselves. It came as a surprise to them as well," she said.

PTI

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