Donated Heart Survives Helicopter Crash and Being Dropped by Medic

The heart was successfully transplanted moments later.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Witness footage of the accident.flight_goonies/Instagram

Sometimes a story comes along that is so crazy it seems almost untrue and yet it is... Such is the case for this tale of a heart transplant that almost did not happen, brought to you by IFLScience.


It all began when the body part was on its way to the Keck Hospital in Los Angeles in a helicopter. At approximately 3:15 pm on November 6, the aircraft crashed on the helipad of the roof of the hospital with the heart still in it. 

The Los Angeles Fire Department had to intervene using a Jaws of Life to retrieve the organ from the crash site. The heart was then handed to a member of the hospital staff.

If that wasn't crazy enough, the heart was then dropped by the doctor who tripped on a metal disc attached to the roof. The heart went rolling across the floor but it was then retrieved.

You would think that by now the poor organ would be worse for wear, but doctors assessed it to be transplanted and proceeded to perform the surgery. What a story!

A new heart

“While saddened that two people on our transport team sustained injuries, we feel very fortunate that they were not life-threatening and we were able to provide our patient with a new heart,” said in a statement Mark Cunningham, MD, the cardiac surgeon who performed the transplant surgery.

“The Keck Medicine of USC team displayed quick thinking, strong leadership, and a steadfast dedication to patient care, ensuring the best possible outcome from this incident.”

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The hospital's statement also added that, due to HIPAA laws, more details about the medical condition of those involved in the helicopter crash or of the transplant patient could not be revealed. It did however note that hospital operations were not interrupted and that most of the debris from the crash had already been cleared. All is well that ends well!

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