December 4, 2022

After 45 minutes, Ohio man’s heart starts beating again

The heart of a 37-year-old diesel mechanic stopped beating for 45 minutes – so long that doctors thought he was dead. He wasn’t.

The heart of a 37-year-old diesel mechanic stopped beating for 45 minutes – so long that doctors thought he was dead. “He was truly flatlined,” said Dr Jayne Testa, of Kettering Medical Center, in Kettering, Ohio. He had no electrical motion, no respiration, and no heart beat, and no blood pressure.”

But suddenly Troy Yahle’s heart began beating again.

“In the last 20 years, I’ve never seen anybody who we have pronounced dead … and then for him to come back, I’ve never seen it,” cardiologist Dr Raja Nazir said. “Actually, I’ve never heard of it.” Doctors are still not sure why Yahle’s heart stopped. It may have been a viral infection. Now he is in good health.

Cases like Yahle’s are rare, but they do happen. They cast a cloud over the criteria for organ donation after cardiac death. The criteria for removal of vital organs is that the surgeon must wait for between 2 and 5 minutes after the last heartbeat. 

Michael Cook
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determining death
donation after cardiac death