Health

Husband's Heart Returned To Widow By Hospital May Actually Be From An Animal

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Linda Carswell has spent nearly ten years battling with a Texas hospital to have part of her deceased husband’s heart returned to her for burial with his remains.

The portion of the heart was returned to her, finally, but she has reason to believe it is actually from an animal, reports the Daily Mail.

Jerry Carswell died unexpectedly after being treated for kidney stones in 2004. A piece of his heart was removed and kept by the hospital without the family’s permission during the autopsy, that proved inconclusive.

Finally having the heart returned to her for burial should have been a relief for Linda. 

Instead, she says it has become a “beyond belief” situation, reports Philly.com.

Not trusting the hospital, Linda had the heart tested by NMS Labs, a forensic laboratory in Pennsylvania.  

They could find no trace of human DNA.

The missing DNA could be a result of how the heart was preserved, according to a biologist.  Or a “real possibility that the heart submitted was not human.”

Linda fears burying the heart with her husband as it could “desecrate the grave.”

“The hospitals and their pathologists continuously have represented to the courts and to us that it was Jerry's heart, that it was properly preserved, and that DNA testing would confirm it was his heart,” Linda said.

Neil McCabe, the family’s attorney, said they had approached the court to ask for depositions of relevant representatives of the hospitals and pathologists. They were seeking answers about why the heart they claim to be Larry’s was devoid of human DNA.

“Whether or not our inquiries will lead to further legal action must await the court's decision on our request for depositions and what those depositions reveal," McCabe said.

Erin Lunceford, an attorney for St. Joseph medical center, where the autopsy was performed, said she did not know why the heart had no human DNA.