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updated: 1/27/2016 5:14 PM

Organ successfully transplanted despite delay at Wheeling airport

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  • After a plane slid off a runway Tuesday at Chicago Executive Airport, the organ it was supposed to pick up was nonetheless successfully transported and transplanted into its intended recipient.

    After a plane slid off a runway Tuesday at Chicago Executive Airport, the organ it was supposed to pick up was nonetheless successfully transported and transplanted into its intended recipient.
    courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

 
 

A medical cargo plane flying into Wheeling's Chicago Executive Airport to pick up an organ slid off the airport's main runway Tuesday, but the organ successfully made it to its intended recipient.

The Falcon 20 cargo plane operated by Kalitta Flying Services from Willow Run Airport near Detroit was unable to stop in time. Once Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network heard, employees arranged for alternative transportation, spokeswoman Susan Cochran said.

"It was safely transplanted into the intended patient and all ended happily," she said.

The area often presents transportation barriers, she said, making it important to have a plan for working around inclement weather and incidents like Tuesday's.

"We have several backups and we do the best we can to get organs where they need to go within the time frame," Cochran said.

The plane was stopped by the airport's Engineered Material Arresting System, made of "very strong" blocks that look similar to concrete blocks but crush easily, dissipating energy, airport spokesman Rob Mark said.

Just over 90 percent of the blocks remain intact, Mark said. Officials met with manufacturer, Zodiac Airspace, Wednesday to discuss repairs, which should be done in a few weeks to mid-March.

The repair cost isn't yet known, "but the process is for the airport to turn in an insurance claim that will make its way back to the operator of the airplane," he said.

The EMAS system has been in place on the main runway since 2014, and the entire airport was outfitted in October.

The two pilots were not injured. Federal Aviation Administration officials are expected to report on the accident's cause by next week.

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