By Adrienne Moore


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — You’ve heard of luggage and other personal items being left behind on a flight, but what about a human heart?

The flight took the organ on ice from a courier at Sacramento International Airport bound for Seattle where the heart’s valve tissue was set to be used. But like a mishandled bag, the heart was mistakenly kept on the connecting flight to Dallas instead of being taken out of the cargo hold.

“It’s very clearly labeled that this is a gift. It’s clearly labeled that this is human tissue for transplant so that the handlers are aware to treat this very carefully,” said Deanna Santana with Sierra Donor Services.

Santana said she has not seen anything like this in her seven years at Sierra Donor Services.

“Everybody involved is going to evaluate the process, they’re going to make sure what happened and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Santana said.

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More than an hour into the connecting flight to Dallas, the pilot turned around, leading to a five-hour delay for passengers.

In a statement, Southwest Airlines said, “the shipment was delivered to its destination within the window of allotted time by our cargo customer. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and the safe delivery of the precious cargo we transport every day.”

Valve tissue has a 48-hour window of viability. Amazingly, the heart made it in time to save the life of its intended recipient.

Sierra Donor Services tells CBS13 it called the donor’s family to alert them of the delay. The company serves about a thousand families in our region every year.

They said the valve tissue donated has the potential of saving three lives.

Adrienne Moore

Comments (24)
  1. Charles D Pickering says:

    I don’t think the “donor” was worried about the delivery . . . it would be the “recipient” who needed the heart!

  2. If this made it back to the donor, I am pretty sure they are dead or at least no longer in need of it it. Wouldn’t this be going to a recipient? Or possibly this could be a pay to play situation. “You donate lots of money to us and we give you a new heart”. Duh.

  3. Bren Ke says:

    Valve tissue has a 48-hour window of viability. Amazingly, the heart made it in time to save the lives of its intended donor.

    That IS amazing! Normally the “donor” in these situations is deceased (what with them not having a heart and all). Saving the lives of the recipients is amazing… but saving the donor too!! That’s really a Christmas Miracle!

    1. Joseph Le Petomane says:

      Obviously, Adrienne Moore is either a high school dropout or a journalism school graduate.

    2. Rebecca Berry Kisler says:

      I had a ’tissue mitral valve replacement’, and I’ve never really where the ’tissue’ came from?

  4. Tim Freeman says:

    And here I thought I left it in San Francisco…

  5. Russell Groves says:

    I used to enjoy airline travel, but nowadays my heart’s just not in it.

  6. SNAFU (look it up if you don’t know what it stands for)

  7. “It’s very clearly labeled that this is a gift. It’s clearly labeled that this is human tissue for transplant so that the handlers are aware to treat this very carefully,” said Deanna Santana with Sierra Donor Services.”

    It is not going to matter what is written on the package if the baggage handlers can’t read English. Maybe the writing should be in more than one language to be on the safe side.

  8. Robert E. Dudley says:

    There are no editors! No one proofreads anything anymore

    1. Lisal Christian says:

      Absolute truth! It makes reading any news or articles positively maddening!

  9. Robbie Warden says:

    Perhaps the labels should have been in Spanish. Might have made a difference.

  10. Steve Walt Walter says:

    And some journalist wonder why the public doesn’t respect them….know the difference between donor and recipient is 5th grade stuff.

  11. Unless they changed the headline here, you guys griping about the heart getting to the donor came from Drudge. It doesn’t say anything at all about the donor here. Drudge frequently changes headlines when he posts on his page.

    1. Charles Aronowitz says:

      Drudge headlines are very often misleading and intentionally inflammatory so as to provoke clicks. There are better places to get news.

    2. Fasdf Fasdf says:

      from above, “Sierra Donor Services tells CBS13 it ***called the donor’s family to alert them*** of the delay.”

  12. Casandria Harris says:

    “Sierra Donor Services tells CBS13 it called the donor’s family to alert them of the delay. The company serves about a thousand families in our region every year.”

  13. Bloody hell… I glanced at article then did a search on donor and got 0. Now I get 15!!!!!!! My bad, people. :-/ Drudge still has the headline… UPDATE: Human Heart Left On Flight Miraculously Makes It To Donor…

  14. Stubby McStubbs says:

    “Sierra Donor Services tells CBS13 it called the donor’s family to alert them of the delay.” Ahh…the donor is dead, idjits!

    Another gem; “But like a mishandled bag” it was a mishandled bag. Duh. CBS has sure gone downhill since the went downhill…

  15. They did in fact contact the *donor’s* family, basically to keep them updated and assure them that their loved one’s donation would not be wasted. There was no designated recipient, so no one to notify on that end — the heart was destined for (time-sensitive) processing of the valves at a tissue bank, where they can be stored indefinitely once processed.

  16. Randy Rued says:

    I left my heart in San Francisco.

  17. Phil Wagner says:

    Just another moronic post from another moron Millenial… God help us!

  18. Jeremy Smith says:

    No surprise here. The people who are hired to be baggage handlers are the lowest of the lows, Democrat voters. They constantly steal from luggage. Actually doing their job, like delivering a heart, is an afterthought.