According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, as medical staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, N.Y. were preparing to harvest the organs of Caroline Burns, she awoke on the operating table.
In 2009, the hospital determined Caroline Burns had “irreversible brain damage” after attempting suicide by taking prescription and non-prescription pills.
They put Caroline on a ventilator, and though she suffered seizures, CT scans did not reveal anything out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, the family was informed her brain damage was irreversible — despite reports by nurses indicating she was getting better and responding to stimuli.
The family finally agreed to take her off life support and consented to harvesting of her organs. Sadly, two years later Burns took her life. Read the full story here.
There have been a number of instances where patients declared brain-dead by physicians have recovered. In England, a father saved his 17-year-old son from a similar plight. Steven Thorpe was severely injured in a car accident and put into a medically induced coma. Four attending doctors said he was brain dead and suggested Steven be taken off life support and his organs harvested. But his parents did not cave to the pressure.
When Steven’s father was able to get a second opinion from another neurologist — who believed there was still brain activity — the hospital agreed to bring his son out of the coma. Two weeks later, Steven regained consciousness and five weeks after that walked out of the hospital. In 2012, Stephen was enrolled in university studying to be an accountant.
In Canada, medical specialists caused an uproar after suggesting doctors there use anesthetics when harvesting organs.