People leave things on the plane all the time, ranging from books to electronics. However, they don’t often leave (literal) hearts on the plane.
Southwest Airlines is in the news after a flight from Seattle to Dallas returned to Seattle this past Sunday after they discovered that a human heart was still on the plane. A Southwest Airlines spokesperson had the following to say:
During Flight #3606 with scheduled service from Seattle to Dallas this past Sunday evening, we learned of a life-critical cargo shipment onboard the aircraft that was intended to stay in Seattle for delivery to a local hospital. Therefore, we made the decision to return to Seattle to ensure the shipment was delivered to its destination within the window of time allotted by our cargo customer.
It’s not uncommon for airlines to transport organs and other critical “cargo.” Apparently donated tissue typically travels in a thermally-controlled box in the cargo hold, while a whole heart for transplant is typically transported by private jet, given how time sensitive it is.
So one sure has to wonder how exactly this was left on the plane. The good news is that the heart still reached its destination on time.
The heart wasn’t intended for a full transplant, but rather was donated for its valves, which were to be used for a future surgical procedure. The valves have to be processed before they’re given to a donor, so they wouldn’t have been used for an extended period of time anyway.
When the flight returned to Seattle it was taken out of service for an unrelated mechanical issue.
I feel like I have to point out the irony that this happened on Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines is all about “heart.” Part of their logo is a heart.
They even have a page on their website that says “heart sets us apart,” and talks about the 43 year history of their heart.
So I guess you could say it’s a bit ironic that Southwest Airlines was the one to leave a heart behind!
(Tip of the hat to Mike)