I’m just going to spare you all of the “I left my heart...” jokes and let your own, capable brains fill those in yourself, because this story is just too damn weird to even waste time with that. A human heart was left aboard Southwest Airlines flight 3606 from Seattle to Dallas, when the heart was supposed to be unloaded in Seattle, causing the plane to turn back around. But it gets weirder.
I mean, there’s plenty of weird to go around here, seeing as it’s an extracted human heart that somehow has been forgotten about. You’d think if your list of things to do that day included not forgetting a human heart on an airplane, you’d manage that one job pretty well. Clearly, that’s not always the case.
No, what’s really weird here is that no one seems to be sure exactly who the heart was for or what was planned to be done with it. Southwest spokesman Dan Landson told the Seattle Times that the heart was a “life-critical shipment,” but organ-donation and procurement agencies do not use commercial flights. According to the Seattle Times’ story,
“We only use private flights,” said Katherine Pliska, spokeswoman for LifeCenter Northwest, the organization that facilitates the transfer of organs for transplant in the region. “There’s a time limit to get where it needs to go.”
A heart intended for transplant is only viable for a few hours at most, so it’s unlikely that this particular heart will end up in some patient. Also, though it was stated that the heart was intended for a Seattle-area hospital, no Seattle-area hospitals claimed any involvement with or connection to the heart.
So, who’s heart was this? What was it going to be used for? Did some absent-minded Dr.Frankenstein’s Igor-assistant forget to get it off the plane? Was it for some weird ritual? A billionaire’s forbidden-meats secret dinner? It’s very confusing.
The plane also experienced an unrelated mechanical issue, delaying passengers an extra five hours.
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2018 4:45 p.m. ET: The source of the heart was a forgetful courier hired by Sierra Donor Services in Sacramento, California to bring the heart to Seattle for valve retrieval, according to the Seattle Times. A representative for Sierra Donor Services told the Times that the delay did not adversely affect the tissue in any way and the valve will prove useful in a future surgery.