Why Can’t Linda Carswell Get Her Husband’s Heart Back?

After an inconclusive autopsy report, Jerry Carswell’s heart remains in a refrigerated cabinet in a hospital lab instead of being buried with him. In a mission to get it back, his wife learned the truth about the shocking flaws in the death investigation process.

Why Can’t Linda Carswell Get Her Husband’s Heart Back?Dan Winters
“Your husband is dead,” the doctor told Linda Carswell.

Jerry Carswell had been admitted to Christus St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, Texas, with kidney stones. The previous night, he’d been talking about basketball and the upcoming presidential election with his son Jordan. The plan was for the 61-year-old to be discharged that morning.

Instead, at about 5 a.m., a phlebotomist entered Jerry’s room to draw blood and found him lying across the bottom of his bed, not breathing, mottled and blue, without a pulse. Staffers performed CPR for 25 minutes to no avail. Carswell was pronounced dead at 5:30 a.m. on January 22, 2004.

Linda and Jordan rushed to Jerry’s bedside; she shrieked and grabbed her husband’s cold hands, trying in vain to stir him.

The on-call doctor suggested that the Carswells authorize an autopsy if they wanted more information on the cause of death, launching the family on a traumatic journey that still isn’t over.

Clinical autopsies, once commonplace in American hospitals, are now conducted in just 8.5 percent of hospital deaths. Grief-stricken families like the Carswells desperately want the answers an autopsy can provide. But they often do not know their rights in dealing with either coroners or medical examiners, who investigate unnatural deaths, or health-care providers, who delve into natural ones.

The Carswells’ case would play out in pathology labs, lawyers’ offices, and courtrooms for more than eight years. It led to a rare $2 million fraud judgment against Christus St. Catherine and state legislation designed to strengthen families’ entitlement to comprehensive, independent postmortem reviews.

It has not, however, led to closure or accountability. Jerry Carswell’s cause of death remains unknown. He also has not been laid fully to rest. His heart sits in a refrigerated cabinet in a hospital lab to this day.

1 2 3

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.