Southwest flight turned around after human heart left on board

Southwest Airlines flight returns to Seattle after human heart is left on board

Plane forced to turn around after human heart was discovered onboard

While the heart should have been taken out of the cargo hold in Seattle, it was mistakenly left on the Southwest Airlines connecting flight, USA Today reported.

A Southwest Airlines flight headed to Dallas from Seattle was diverted after a human heart was found onboard the Sunday afternoon flight, the Seattle Times reported.

Once Flight 3606 landed in Seattle, mechanical difficulties forced the already late passengers to reboard to another plane, causing around five hours in delays.

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A spokesperson for the airline said it was 'absolutely necessary to deliver the shipment to its destination in the Seattle area as quickly as possible'.

But according to Joel Newman, assistant communications director at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the only way a heart would ever be transported on a commercial flight would be for research, or if they were merely using some tissue or valves.

It is unclear, however, what the heart was intended for or whether someone's life was on the line, the Times reports.

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Someone forgot to unload the heart before the plane left for Dallas, and the captain announced over Idaho they were turning back.

Dr. Andrew Gottschalk, a passenger on the flight with no connection to the heart onboard, told the Times the odyssey was a "horrific story of gross negligence". Parts of a heart, such as valves, can be recovered when whole heart transplants aren't feasible. Or if it made it there in time for a likely transplant.

As for who's in charge of a commercially-flown organ: it flies solo.

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"Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and the safe delivery of the precious cargo we transport every day", Landson said in an email to the Seattle Times.

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