An Irish American woman who was declared brain dead by doctors in a Syracuse, New York hospital was about to have her organs harvested when she suddenly woke up.
The hospital has now been fined $22,000 for the incident by the state department of health, the Daily News reports.
Colleen Burns had taken a drug overdose in 2009 and had lapsed into a deep coma at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Syracuse. Doctors mistakenly concluded that she was dead of cardiac arrest.
The 41-year old mother of three had overdosed on Xanax, Benadryl and a muscle relaxant and was pronounced brain dead.
Her family was given the tragic news and agreed to her organs being harvested. She was kept on a respirator until that surgery was to be done.
One day before the harvesting of the organs a nurse noticed that Colleen was able to curl her foot when a finger was placed on the sole. She reported her findings but they was dismissed.
Then just before the organ removal surgery, her nostrils flared and she was breathing without the respirator. Her lips and tongue were seen moving also.
Still her condition was ignored and she was about to be operated on when her eyes suddenly flew open and she looked up at the bright lights. Burns made a full recovery and was allowed to leave hospital two weeks later.
Tragically, she killed herself with another overdose 16 months later.
The hospital did not fully investigate her near death experience and only a surprise inspection a year later alerted the state authorities.