Texas widow receives deceased husband's heart from hospital, may not even be human

CNN
Saturday, February 15, 2014 - 11:35am

A widow is battling a hospital to have her late husband's remains returned 10 years after his death, she says what the hospital sent her might not even be human remains.

"There's a big hole in my life."

It' has been a painful battle for Linda Carswell, in the courtroom and at home, living without her husband, Jerry.

"He should not have died, he was a healthy man," said Carswell.

Ten years ago, Jerry Carswell was admitted to Christus St. Catherine's Hospital in Katy for kidney stones.

Carswell said her husband died unexpectedly there, and since she feared it was because of a hospital error she told the hospital to arrange for a full autopsy.

"I said, I want an independent autopsy done," said Carswell.

But Carswell said the autopsy was not done at an independent facility and the cause of death was still never determined. She sued and the jury found the hospital guilty of fraud. But the battle wasn't over.

Carswell says through the court fight, the hospital kept a part of her husband's remains, his heart.

She said when she finally got the organ back and sent it to a crime lab, the results were unimaginable.

"It was just astounding to me," said Carswell.

The lab claims the organ showed no signs of DNA because it was not preserved properly or they say it's a real possibility it may not even be human.

"Although I don't know what happened, what this latest petition ins about is that we want to get some answers. I wouldn't put anything past these people," said Neil McCabe, Carswell's lawyer.

One of the hospitals involved, S. Joseph Hospital, issued this statement:

"Linda Carswell was notified on August 23, 2013 that her husband's tissue samples would be released to her, and shortly thereafter a process was agreed upon to release those tissue samples to the family."

"On November 19, 2013, Mr. Carswell's tissue samples were released to representatives from a funeral home of Mrs. Carswell's choosing, and all appropriate legal documentation was signed by both parties indicating that proper procedures in the releasing of these specimens and to release Saint Joseph Medical Center from further claims, demands, or causes of action."

"Since that time, we have no way of knowing what may have happened to the specimens in question, or what was provided to NMS Laboratory." 

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