A Southwest Airlines flight was forced to turn around after crew members found a human heart onboard that was meant to be delivered to a hospital.
During the flight on Sunday (local time), passengers were informed by the captain why the flight had to redirect, explaining that the heart had been left on board after a previous flight from Sacramento, California. A Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to Dallas had to turn around midlight after the crew found a human heart onboard. Seattle-area hospitals that were contacted said they knew nothing about a possible heart transplant, the newspaper reported.
A spokeswoman for LifeCenter Northwest, an organization that facilitates organ transfers for the region, said they don't use commercial airlines for heart transplant transfers.
After returning to Seattle, a spokesperson for Southwest told PEOPLE that the fight was "taken out of service due to an unrelated mechanical issue".
The flight took off for Dallas once again after a five hour delay.
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It's unclear how long the flight was in the air before it made its return to Seattle or if the heart was intended for a specific patient.
Southwest spokesman Dan Landson told the Seattle Times time was still of the essence.
Andrew Gottschalk, who was a passenger on the plane, told the Seattle Times he and his fellow passengers were shocked by the news, but "happy to save a life". "There's a time limit to get where it needs to go". It was discovered that a human heart, intended as a transplant, had been left on board.
The mishap occurred a few days after another Southwest airlines flight overran the runway as it was trying to land at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California.
The airline didn't provide the name of the company that shipped the organ, or confirm any further details.