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'Dead' patient's organs nearly removed

Published On: Jul 09 2013 02:50:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 09 2013 03:06:28 PM CDT
Doctor with scalpel, surgery blurb

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In a disturbing case of medicine gone wrong, a New York woman's organs are nearly removed after doctors thought she was dead.

Colleen S. Burns, 41, suffered a drug overdose in October 2009 and was taken to the emergency room at St. Joseph's Hospital Center in Syracuse, The Post-Standard reported.

Although a nurse told doctors she was recovering, she was eventually pronounced dead.

Her family, after speaking with doctors, agreed to remove Burns from life support and gave the hospital permission to harvest her organs, according to an investigation by the state Health Department.

But Burns was far from dead.

In fact, she appeared to be breathing independently from a respirator and her toes curled downward during a mandatory reflex test, The Post-Standard reported.

Despite those signs, a nurse administered a powerful sedative and doctors were just about to cut into her when Burns opened her eyes.

Her family never sued the hospital, which was fined just $22,000 over the incident even though they never explained what went wrong.

While the fines were handed down in 2012, they were first made public in a report obtained by The Post-Standard on Sunday.

Burns fully recovered from the overdose, but committed suicide in January 2011, her mother told the newspaper.

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