Syracuse hospital patient awakens just before organs were to be harvested

Doctors at a Syracuse hospital came within inches of harvesting the organs of a live woman who woke on the operating table, despite previous reports by nurses indicating she was alive.

Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center mistakenly ruled that Colleen S. Burns, 41, had suffered a cardiac death in October 2009, according to records published Sunday by the Syracuse Post-Standard behind a $22,000 fine issued by the state department of health.

The mother of three from North Syracuse had overdosed on Xanax, Benadryl and a muscle relaxant but had not died, only slipped into a deep coma, it would later be revealed.

She was mistakenly declared brain dead by hospital staff, with the tragic news presented to Burns' family who gave doctors permission to take her off life support and harvest her organs.

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