Oscars disrupted organ transplant flights

Feb. 26, 2008 at 9:54 AM   |   Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Oscars awards gala in Hollywood created a headache for an organ donor agency in British Columbia, Canada, because all charter jets were booked.

Bill Barrable, executive director of BC Transplant, told the Globe and Mail a man in a rural part of the province died suddenly Thursday and had an unusually high number of viable organs, including both lungs and kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas.

However, after contacting all 11 jet-for-hire companies he has used in the past to get the organ-recovery surgeons to the site and back, he learned all the aircraft were Hollywood-bound, the report said.

Last year, the agency booked 23 $15,000 flights on recovery missions and Barrable said he decided to call an old university friend for help -- Robert McFarlane, chief financial officer and vice president of Telus Corp.

Within an hour, the company had one of its private jets in the air at no charge and the organs were harvested and returned to Vancouver, Barrable said. Seven people received organ transplants, he said.

"It was a race against time, really," he said. "But talk about a happy ending."

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