Residents in Maryland might assume that when it comes to the donation and transplantation of human organs, a tightly run and well-supervised system is in place. This would be a logical assumption given the highly critical and life-sensitive nature of the topic. However, it seems that this may not actually be the case. An incident that occurred in early December in the Pacific Northwest sheds some light onto what may be some gaps in the nation's organ donation process.
According to The Seattle Times, a human heart was loaded into the cargo area of a passenger plane in Sacramento. The heart was supposed to be removed upon arrival in Seattle and taken to a facility there so that the valves could be harvested and used for transplant purposes. Instead of this happening as planned, the plane took off from Sea Tac Airport as scheduled and began making its way to Texas.
The plane was in eastern Idaho, near its borders with Montana and Wyoming, before turning around to deliver the heart back to Seattle. The report indicates that the heart arrived in time for the valves to still be usable, but it highlights a potential risk to patients in need of transplants for whom time is of the essence. Such delays may make the difference between life and death for these people. As many as 33 people on organ transplant lists die every day in the United States.
When full organs are to be transplanted, they are supposed to be delivered via private, not passenger, planes. Even the use of specific tissue from organs can still be essential for patients waiting for them.