Swedish stroke patient overhears doctors talking about donating his organs

Jimi Fritze was unable to alert anyone as he lay sedated in hospital

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The Independent Online

A Swedish stroke patient overheard doctors discussing organ donation as he lay sedated in hospital.

Jimi Fritze, 43, could hear every word the doctors were saying but was unable to protest, The Local reported.

He suffered a stroke almost two years ago when he was out in the Gothenburg archipelago with his family.

“I managed to catch my girlfriend's attention - I was bright red in the face, and she's a nurse so she managed to keep my airways open,” Fritze told The Local.

An ambulance helicopter was unable to land on the small island and so Fritze had to wait for a boat, meaning he did not arrive at Sahlgrenska hospital until 90 minutes after the stroke.

“Only my ears and eyes were working,” he said.

After doctors had examined brain scans, they informed his family that there was nothing they could do. 

“They told my girlfriend that there was no hope,” Fritze said.

Around 14 members of Fritze’s family came to the hospital to bid farewell to their relative and it was at this point that hospital staff brought up the subject of organ donation.

Swedish doctors are not supposed to breach the topic until a patient has been diagnosed as brain dead.

It was not until three days later that Fritze got a second opinion when another doctor returned from holiday.

“She looked at my scans and said 'This doesn't look too bad' and told the staff to give me cortisone to bring down the swelling in my brain,” he said.

 “But even so, my girlfriend and my sister had to fight with the night nurse to give me cortisone, and this was just one day before they had said they would make a final 'chance of survival' assessment.”

It would be another three weeks until Fritze could communicate with his family again and, two years later, he still struggles with his speech.

But now that his health is improving he has sent an official complaint to the health and welfare board, which oversees quality of healthcare in Sweden.

Fritze said he had been spurred into action by a story in the news: “It was about a Danish woman. They took her off life support, but then she survived. But there was some boss or another from the Swedish National Health and Welfare Board who said on the TV news that 'This would never happen in Sweden'.”

In his official complaint he said: “If that doctor hadn't come back from her holiday, would I have been made to lie there until my body couldn't take it any longer?”