OPTN/UNOS statement regarding fatal helicopter air accident involving donation, transplant personnel

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and United Network for Organ Sharing share in the sorrow of Mayo Clinic Florida and the entire transplant community following news of a fatal helicopter accident on Dec. 26.  Two donation and transplant professionals from Mayo Clinic Florida were aboard the flight to recover a donated organ for transplantation. Dr. Luis Bonilla, a cardiac transplant surgeon, and David Hines, an organ procurement technician, lost their lives along with the helicopter pilot, E. Hoke Smith of SK Jets.

Every day of the year, organ donation and transplant professionals are traveling to hospitals to evaluate potential organ offers, recover organs and transport them to transplant centers.  While this is a routine practice, the risk of serious or fatal accident can never be eliminated.  This risk is known and accepted by dedicated professionals as part of their devotion to saving lives through organ transplantation.  At the same time, transplantation is a uniquely collaborative and collegial field.  We share bonds of friendship and experience working with each other, and a tragic loss of life in the performance of these duties is felt by all.

We offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of the individuals who lost their lives in the process of saving other lives.  We also extend our condolences to the staff and families of Mayo Clinic Florida at this most difficult time.

Additional links

Mayo Clinic’s News Blog

Mayo Clinic’s Twitter Feed

Mayo Clinic’s Facebook posts

Group Donate Life post on Linkedin

AMAT’s message of condolence in response to UNOS’ statement.

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