Southwest flight turned around after human heart left on board

Southwest Airlines Flight

Hearts and lungs destined for transplant are not typically transported in commercial flights, since there is a four- to six-hour window allowed between removing the organ and transplanting it.

A Dallas-bound flight returned to Seattle last weekend because a human heart was left on board, according to Southwest Airlines.

Southwest spokesman Dan Landson confirmed to the newspaper that Flight 3606 landed at Sea-Tac International Airport after about three hours in flight, adding that the "life-critical cargo shipment" was removed from the plane.

Passengers were shocked when the captain explained that the heart was intended for delivery to a Seattle hospital after a previous flight from Sacramento, the Seattle Times reported.

"We made the decision to return to Seattle, as it was absolutely necessary to deliver the shipment to its destination", a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told Q13 News.

No one complained about being turned around, Gottschalk said, but passengers with internet connections quickly became alarmed when they found out a human heart is usually viable for a transplant for only a few hours, the newspaper reported. Or if it made it there in time for a likely transplant.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko leads the National Security and Defence Council meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

Dr Gottschalk called the incident a "horrific story of gross negligence".

But the team forgot to unload it - and simply prepared the plane for its next flight to Dallas.

It is not known where the heart was headed.

Every Seattle hospital denied being part of this scenario.

"We only use private flights", Katherine Pliska told the Times.

"We sincerely regret the inconvenience to the customers impacted by the delay, and we are following up with them with a gesture of goodwill to apologize for the disruption to their travel", an airline spokesperson said.

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