Photo: Dr. Luis Bonilla Among Those Killed When Helicopter Picking Up Donor Heart Crashes
A helicopter transporting two members of Mayo Clinic’s transplant team crashed the morning of December 26th while traveling to Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville to procure an organ. The medical team consisted of Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeon Luis Bonilla, M.D., and procurement technician David Hines. A helicopter pilot who was not employed by Mayo also died in the accident. No patients were on board.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those involved in this tragedy. This is a great loss to the Mayo Clinic family and the transplant community,” said William Rupp, M.D., vice president of Mayo Clinic and chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic in Florida.
“As we mourn this tragic event, we will remember the selfless and intense dedication they brought to making a difference in the lives of our patients,” said John Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic president and chief executive officer. “We recognize the commitment transplant teams make every day in helping patients at Mayo Clinic and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”
The helicopter crashed in northern Florida, about 12 miles northeast of Palatka at around 5:53 a.m., but the crash was not reported until around noon when those aboard another helicopter saw it.
Details about the intended recipient of the heart were not released.
The helicopter was owned and operated by an outside company.