Human heart left on board prompts Southwest flight to return to Seattle

A Southwest Airline jet takes off from Dallas' Love Field in 2007. This week, a Southwest flight on the way to Love Field from Seattle had to turn back after a human heart was left on board.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

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

The Seattle Times reported that Flight 3606 had arrived in Seattle from Sacramento on its way to Dallas on Sunday, and someone transporting the heart for medical purposes failed to remove it before the plane left for Dallas. The captain announced over Idaho that the plane was were turning back.

The heart was being sent to a tissue processor to recover a valve for use in a future transplant.


Deanna Santa of Sierra Donor Services in Sacramento said the organ-procurement organization sent the heart through a courier, who picked it up in Sacramento for shipment to Seattle. The delay did not impair the heart’s usefulness, and no patient needed it imminently.

The flight took off again for Dallas after a five-hour delay.